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Full text of "The love-affairs of the Condés (1530-1740)"

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First Published in 1912 





THE principal authorities, both contemporary and 
modern, which I have consulted in the preparation 
of this volume are mentioned either in the text or the 
footnotes. I desire, however, to acknowledge my obligations 
to the following works by modern writers : Due d'Aumale, 
" Histoire des Princes de Conde ; " M. Edouard Barthelemy, 
" La Princesse de Conde* : Charlotte Catherine de la Tre- 
moille ; " M. Henri Bouchot, " Les Femmes de Brantome ; " 
Victor Cousin, " La Jeunesse de Madame de Longueville ; " 
Comte Jules Delaborde, " Elonore de Roye, Princesse de 
Conde" (1535-1564);" M. I. Henrard, "Henri IV. et la 
Princesse de Conde ; " MM. Homberg and Jousselin, " La 
Femme du Grand Conde" ; " Comte Hector de la Ferriere, 
" Trois Amoureuses au XVP siecle ; " and M. H. Thirion, 
" Madame de Prie (1698-1727)." 






Origin of the House of Conde Louis de Bourbon, first prince of the name 
His modest debut at the Court His personal appearance and character 
Enmity between the Bourbons and the Guises Conde attaches himself to 
the party of the Connetable Anne de Montmorency, and marries the 
latter's niece, Eleonore de Roye Noble character of Eleonore Gallantries 
of Conde His early military career Death of Henry II. Progress of the 
Reformation in France Conde embraces Protestantism and places himself 
at the head of the opposition to the Guises He is arrested at Orleans, 
brought to trial for high treason and condemned to death But is saved by 
the opportune death of Fra^ois II 1-15 


Critical condition of France at the accession of Charles IX. Character and 
policy of Catherine de' Medici The Triumvirate Catherine leans to the 
side of the Reformers The " Edict of January " Massacre of Vassy 
Conde remains faithful to the Protestant cause Beginning of the civil war 
The Protestants, at first successful, soon in a desperate position Conde 
turns to England for aid : Treaty of Hampton Court Fall of Rouen 
Conde marches on Paris Battle of Dreux : the prince taken prisoner 
Second Captivity of Conde Assassination of Guise Conference on the 
Ile-aux-Boeufs The maids-of-honour Peace of Amboise Conde follows 
the Court 16-28 


Catherine de' Medici and her " escadron volant" Adroitness with which the 
Queen employs the charms of her maids-of-honour to seduce the Huguenot 
chief The King of Navarre and la belle Rouet Policy of Catherine after 
the Peace of Amboise She determines to compromise Conde with his 
foreign allies and the French Protestants, by encouraging his taste for 
sensual pleasures And selects for his subjugation her maid-of-honour and 
kinswoman Isabelle de Limeuil Description of this siren Her admirers 



Her mercenary character Beginning of her liaison with the prince 
Conde and Elizabeth of England Mile, de Limeuil, inspired by Catherine, 
seeks to persuade Conde to break with Elizabeth Mission of d'Alluye to 
England Conde is induced to take up arms against his late allies Siege 
and surrender of Le Havre 29-42 


Conde is disappointed in his hopes of obtaining the post of Lieutenant-General 
of the Kingdom The prince incurs the hatred of the extreme Catholics 
Plot to assassinate him on the Feast of Corpus Christi Suspicion with 
which he is regarded by the zealots of his own party Conde, deceived in 
his ambition and mortified by the hostility of the extremists on both sides, 
turns to pleasure for consolation Violent passion of the Marechale de 
Saint-Andre for him Indignation and alarm aroused at Geneva by the 
rumours of Conde's amorous adventures Calvin and Beze address a joint 
letter of remonstrance to the prince Conde at Muret Death of two of his 
children Failing health of the Princesse de Conde Her touching devotion 
to her husband Her dignified attitude in regard to his infidelities Return 
of Conde to the Court Quarrel between him and Isabelle de Limeuil 
Temporary triumph of the Marechale de Saint- Andre Refusal of the King 
to sanction the betrothal of the Marquis de Conti to Mile, de Saint-Andre 
Conde quits the Court in anger, but is reconciled to Isabelle and returns 
A second honeymoon 43~S2 


The fetes of Fontainebleau Charles IX. and Catherine set out on a grand 
progress through the kingdom Dangerous illness of the Princesse de 
Conde Her husband obliged to remain with her Scandalous denofiment 
of the amours of Conde and Isabelle de Limeuil Indignation of the 
Queen-Mother Isabelle and the Prince de la Roche-sur-Yon The Comte 
de Maulevrier accuses Isabelle of having plotted to poison the princ e She 
is arrested and conducted to the Franciscan convent at Auxonne Tender 
correspondence between her and Du Fresne Passionate letters of Conde 
to his mistress Isabelle denies the charges against her Her letter to 
Catherine She is removed to Vienne Her despair Her pathetic letters 
to Conde She is examined by the Bishops of Orleans and Limoges, and 
confronted by Maulevrier 


Death of the Princesse de Conde Question of the prince's remarriage The 
Marechale de Saint- Andre's bid for his hand Rumours of a matrimonial 
alliance with the Guises Catherine de' Medici, alarmed at such a prospect, 
resolves to set Mile, de Limeuil at liberty Isa belle joins Conde at Valery 
Intense indignation of the Huguenots at the scandalous conduct of the 



prince Quarrel between Conde and Coligny The leaders of the party 
take counsel together " to find a remedy for so great an evil " The deputa- 
tion of Protestant pastors Conde declines to separate from his mistress, 
but eventually breaks with her His marriage with Mile, de Longueville 
Conde persuaded by his wife to demand the return of the presents he has 
given his mistress Revenge of Isabelle Her marriage Renewal of the 
civil war Battle of Saint-Denis Peace of Longjumeau Flight of Conde 
to La Rochelle Third War of Religion breaks out Battle of Jarnac 
Death of Conde 70-91 


Henri I de Bourbon, Prince de Conde His personal appearance and character 
Jeanne d'Albret presents Henri of Navarre and Conde to the army The 
" Admiral's pages " The " Journey of the Princes " Battle of Arnay-le- 
Duc Conde at La Rochelle Henri of Navarre is betrothed to Marguerite 
de Valois, and Conde to Marie de Cleves An awkward lover Marriage 
of Conde Massacre of Saint-Bartholomew The King of Navarre and 
Conde are ordered to abjure their religion Firmness of the latter, who, 
however, at length yields Humiliating position of Conde Intrigue 
between his wife and the Due d'Anjou Conde at the siege of La Rochelle 
Anjou elected King of Poland He offers the hand of his discarded 
mistress, Mile, de Chateauneuf, to Nantouillet, provost of Paris Unpleasant 
consequences of the provost's refusal of this honour .... 92-107 


Departure of Anjou for Poland Conde, compromised in the conspiracy of the 
" Politiques," escape to Strasbourg, where he reverts to the Protestant 
faith Death of Charles IX., who is succeeded by the King of Poland 
Flight of the new King from Cracow Death of the Princesse de Conde : 
extravagant grief of Henry III. Conde invades France at the head of an 
army of German mercenaries The " Paix de Monsieur" Conde endeavours 
to establish himself in the West of France Formation of the League and 
renewal of the civil war Conde refuses the hand of Mile, de Vaudemont, 
Henry III.'s sister-in-law His second Odyssey He commands the 
Huguenot forces in Poitou and Saintonge He proposes for the hand of 
Charlotte Catherine de la Tremoille Letter of Mile, de la Tremoille 
to the prince He visits her at the Chateau of Taillebourg Disastrous 
expedition of Conde against Angers He is obliged to take refuge in 
Guernsey 108-124 


Loyalty of Mile, de la Tremoille to Conde She prevents her mother, the 
Duchesse de Thouars, from surrendering the Chateau of Taillebourg to a 
Catholic force And defends it gallantly until she is relieved She equips two 



ships-of-war to bring Conde from Guernsey Reunion of the lovers Their 
marriage Conde takes the field again Financial embarrassments of the 
new menage Battle of Coutras : encounter between Conde and Saint-Luc 
Ill-health of the prince He returns to Saint-Jean-d'Angely He is 
suddenly taken ill, and dies in two days Violent grief of his wife 
Suspicions of the doctors An autopsy is performed, and the prince is de- 
clared to have been poisoned Letter of the King of Navarre to the 
Comtesse de Gramont Flight of the princess's page, Belcastel, and her 
head valet-de-chambre, Corbais Arrest of her intendant, Brilland The 
King of Navarre arrives at Saint-Jean-d'Angely, and orders the Princesse 
de Conde to be placed under arrest Terrible situation of the princess 125-138 


The King of Navarre appoints a special commission for the trial of Brilland 
Brilland is put to the question His confessions under torture implicate 
the Princesse de Conde, but on the following day he disavows them He 
is found guilty and condemned to be dismembered by horses The princess 
denies the competency of the court and appeals to the Parlement of Paris 
But the King of Navarre and the commissioners ignore the decrees of that 
body The commission directs that the princess shall be brought to trial 
She gives birth to a son The prosecution is dropped, but the princess re- 
mains in captivity The President de Thou interests himself in her case 
Means by which he obtains from Henri IV. the recognition of her son's 
rights, and, with them, the acknowledgment of the princess's innocence 



Education of Henri II. de Bourbon, Prince de Conde Appearance and 
character of the young prince He is offered and accepts the hand of 
Charlotte de Montmorency, unaware that Henry IV. is desperately en- 
amoured of the lady Conversation of the King with Bassompierre 
Marriage of Conde and Mile, de Montmorency Infatuation of the King for 
the young princess Conde refuses to accept the odious role assigned to 
him, and " plays the devil " Violent scenes between him and the King He 
removes with his wife to Picardy Amorous escapade of Henri IV. Conde, 
summoned to Court for the accouchement of the Queen, leaves the princess 
behind him Indignation of Henri IV. Conde flies with his wife to 
Flanders Fury of the King, who sends troops in pursuit of the fugitives 
Refusal of the Archdukes to deliver them up Conde goes to Cologne, while 
the princess proceeds to Brussels . 149-162 


Conde summoned by the Archdukes to Brussels He places himself under the 
protection of Philip III. of Spain Mission of the Marquis de Cceuvres to 
Brussels His attempted abduction of the Princesse de Conde Conde 



declared guilty of high treason He leaves Brussels for Milan Henri IV. 
and his Ministers threaten the Archdukes with war if the princess is not 
given up Despatches of the Spanish Ambassador to his Court Conde at 
Milan Assassination of Henri IV. Embarrassing position of Conde in 
regard to Spain He returns to Brussels, but declines to see his wife 
His return to France He contemplates the dissolution of his marriage, but 
ultimately consents to a formal reconciliation with the princess His turbu- 
lent conduct during the regency of Marie de' Medici His arrest and 
imprisonment The princess magnanimously shares her husband's captivity 
Dangerous illness of the prince Birth of Anne Genevieve de Bourbon 
Release of the Condes 163-178 


Birth of Louis de Bourbon, Due d'Enghien (the Great Conde) His early years 
at the Chateau of Montrond His education His personal appearance and 
character Wealth of the Condes Life at Chantilly Isabelle de Boutte- 
ville and Marthe du Vigean Tender attachment of the Due d'Enghien 
and Mile, du Vigean Subserviency of the Prince de Conde towards 
Richelieu He solicits for Enghien the hand of the Cardinal's niece, Claire- 
Clemence de Maille-Breze The young prince protests against the sacrifice 
demanded of him, but eventually consents He is presented to Mile, de 
Maille-Breze First campaign of the Great Conde He denies the rumour 
that he has "no taste for his fiancee" Fete at the Palais-Cardinal : a 
ludicrous incident Marriage of the Due d'Enghien .... 179-195 


Serious illness of the Due d'Enghien Tyranny exercised over him by Richelieu 
An amusing anecdote Death of the Cardinal His will Lawsuit be- 
tween the Prince de Conde and the Duchesse d'Aiguillon Enghien con- 
templates the dissolution of his marriage, neglects his wife, and devotes 
himself to Marthe du Vigean He receives the command of the Army of 
Flanders, gains the brilliant victory of Rocroi, and takes Thionville The 
Duchesse d'Enghien gives birth to a son Indifference of the duke He 
returns to Paris and endeavours to procure the dissolution of his marriage 
But this project is frustrated by the interference of the Prince de Conde 
Enghien is wounded at the battle of Nordlingen, and has a dangerous 
attack of fever To the astonishment of his friends, he suddenly breaks off 
his tender relations with Mile, du Vigean Despair of the lady, who, in 
spite of the opposition of her family, enters the Carmelites of the Faubourg 
Saint-Jacques 196-206 


Notwithstanding his rupture with Mile, du Vigean, the Due d'Enghien con- 
tinues to treat his wife with coldness The heart of the prince is fiercely 
disputed by the ladies of the Court Dissipated life of Enghien : paternal 



remonstrances Liaison between the duke and Ninon de 1'Enclos Death 
of Henri II de Bourbon, Prince de Conde Failure of the new Prince de 
Conde before Lerida His brilliant victory at Lens Beginning of the 
Fronde Conde remains faithful to the Court, and takes command of the 
royal troops The Duchesse de Chatillon becomes his mistress Peace of 
Rueil The arrogance and ambition of Conde causes the Court and the 
Frondeurs to join forces against him The arrest of the Princes The 
Princesse de Conde at Bordeaux Death of the dowager-princess Equi- 
vocal conduct of Madame de Chatillon Episode of an unaddressed letter 
Exile of Mazarin and release of the Princes Continued indifference of 
Conde towards his wife, notwithstanding her courageous efforts on his 
behalf Negotiations between him and the Regent His rupture with the 
Frondeurs, who draw towards the Court Conde retires to Saint-Maur 
Alliance between the Court and the Frondeurs Proceedings against 
Conde The prince retires to Montrond and " draws the sword " . 207-224 


Conde proceeds to Bordeaux, where he is rejoined by his relatives He opens 
the campaign with success, but is soon obliged to remain on the defensive 
Return of Mazarin Conde on the Loire Battle of Bleneau He leaves 
his army and proceeds to Paris His futile negotiations Battle of the 
Faubourg Saint-Antoine Massacre of the Hotel de Ville The Fronde 
grows daily more discredited Conde quits Paris and joins the Spaniards 
on the Flemish frontier The Fronde at Bordeaux Sanguinary affrays 
between the Ormle and the Chapeau Rouge Courage and presence of mind 
displayed by the Princesse de Conde and Madame de Longueville in 
separating the combatants Surrender of Bordeaux The princess sails for 
Flanders to rejoin her husband Her reception at Valenciennes She is 
cruelly neglected by Conde She removes from Valenciennes to Malines 
Her miserable existence Conde applies to the Spanish Court for financial 
assistance Brilliant military qualities displayed by him in the service of 
his country's enemies The princess gives birth to a daughter Peace of the 
Pyrenees Return of Conde and his wife to France .... 225-234 


Arrival of Conde at the Court His reception He returns to Paris His in- 
gratitude towards his wife Dignified behaviour of Madame la Princesse 
Affectionate relations between Conde and his son Indifference of the 
young prince towards his mother Marriage of the Due d'Enghien and 
Anne of Bavaria The affair of Poland Condi's conquest of Franche- 
Comte The mind of the Princesse de Conde becomes affected The foot- 
man Duval Mysterious affair at the Hotel de Conde : the princess is 
wounded in a brawl between Duval and the Comte de Bussy-Rabutin 
Singular attitude of Monsieur le Prince Trial of Duval Calumnies against 
the Princesse de Conde : letter of Madame de Sevigne The princess is 
exiled to the Chateau of Chateauroux, in Berry Her departure : a touching 
scene Her captivity Her hallucinations Visit of Pere Tixier . 235-250 




Termination of Conde's military career His retirement at Chanlilly His 
improvements of the chateau and estate His son, the Due d'Enghien 
(Monsieur le Due) Portrait of this prince by Saint-Simon His tyrannical 
treatment of his wife His singular habits Malicious practical joke which 
he perpetrates on the Due de Luxembourg His amours with the Duchesse 
de Nevers, the Marquise de Richelieu, and the Comtesse de Marans His 
natural daughter by Madame de Marans legitimated and married to the 
Marquis de Lassay His lack of military capacity His children The 
education of his only son, the Due de Bourbon, superintended by Conde 
Marriage of the young prince to Mile, de Nantes, elder daughter of 
Louis XIV. and Madame de Montespan The wedding-night Conversion 
of Conde His last illness His death His funeral oration by Bossuet 
The Princesse de Conde remains in captivity Her death . . 251-268 


Henri-Jules de Bourbon, fifth Prince de Conde His affection for Chantilly 
Improvements which he executes there -The " Galerie des Batailles" 
His business capacity His relations with his son, the Due de Bourbon 
{Monsieur le Due] Character of this prince His ungovernable temper 
and vindictiveness His intrigue with Madame de Mussy She betrays 
him for the Comte d' Albert A violent scene Madame de Mussy follows 
her new lover to Spain Her sad fate Other amours of Monsieur le Due 
Character of Madame la Duchesse Her intrigue with the Prince de 
Conti Her grief at his premature death Last years of the Prince de 
Conde His eccentricity becomes hardly distinguishable from madness 
Anecdotes concerning him His death His last instructions to his son 
The Due de Bourbon retains his title, instead of assuming that of 
Prince de Conde His sudden death, eleven months after that of his 
father 269-280 


Louis Henri de Bourbon-Conde He assumes the title of Due de Bourbon, 
instead of that of Prince de Conde, and is known as Monsieur le Due His 
personal appearance He loses an eye by a shooting accident His military 
career He becomes President of the Council of Regency on the death of 
Louis XIV. His protection of John Law His wealth His character 
His marriage with Marie Anne de Bourbon-Conti Singular intrigue which 
precedes it His indifference to his wife His amours The financier 
Berthelot de Pleneuf Gallantries of Madame de Pleneuf Saint-Simon's 
portrait of her Her daughter, Agnes de Pleneuf Singular beauty and 
intelligence of this young girl Violent jealousy which her mother con- 
ceives for her Marriage of Agnes to the Marquis de Prie, who is soon 



afterwards appointed Ambassador at Turin Her life at Turin Disgrace 
and bankruptcy of Berthelot de Pleneuf Financial straits of the de Pries 
Madame de Prie comes to Paris to intercede with the Government on 
her husband's behalf Calumnies concerning her spread by her mother and 
her partisans Her relations with the Regent 281-295 


Origin of the liaison between Monsieur le Due and Madame de Prie considered 
Extraordinary ascendency which the latter acquires over her lover 
For a while, the favourite leads a life of pleasure, but is soon obliged 
to give her attention to politics Exasperation of Madame de Ple"neufs 
coterie against her Insecurity of Monsieur le Due's position The 
Orleans faction Intrigues of the War Minister Le Blanc and the Belle- 
Isles Hatred of Madame de Prie for Le Blanc She resolves to crush 
the common enemies of herself and Monsieur le Due Her skilful conduct 
Murder of Sandrier de Mitry, chief cashier of La Jonchere, treasurer 
of the Emergency War Fund Sinister suspicions concerning La Jonchere 
and Le Blanc Madame de Prie determines to get to the bottom of the 
mystery Her alliance with the Paris brothers against the War Minister 
Dubois persuades the Regent to withdraw his protection from Le Blanc 
Arrest of La Jonchere and examination of his accounts Disgrace and 
exile of Le Blanc The death of Dubois puts a stop to the proceedings 
Death of Philippe d'Orleans Monsieur le Due becomes Prime Minister 



Beginning of the Ministry of Monsieur le Due His early popularity Diffi- 
culties of the situation Philippe d'Orleans replaced by three new 
powers : Louis XV., Fleury, and Philip V. of Spain Futile negotia- 
tions between Monsieur le Due and the Orleans faction Madame de 
Prie advises the prince to take the offensive Resumption of the pro- 
ceedings against La Jonchere and his accomplices Indignation and 
alarm of the Orleanists Attempted assassination of La Guilloniere, in 
mistake for Paris-Duverney Conspiracy against the lives of Monsieur le 
Due and his mistress Madame de Prie insists on prompt and energetic 
action, and Le Blanc and the Belle-Isles are thrown into the Bastille 
Arrest of Lempereur and other persons The Government is determined 
on the total ruin of Le Blanc Murder of Gazan de la Combe La Blanc 
claims the privilege of being tried by the assembled chambers of the 
Parlement Efforts of Monsieur le Due and Madame de Prie to counteract 
the influence of Fleury over Louis XV. Recall of Villeroy Visit of the 
King to Chantilly Trial of Le Blanc Extraordinary proceedings 
Acquittal of the accused 3 I 4~33 I 




Monsieur le Due and Madame de Prie determine to break off the marriage 
of Louis XV. and the Infanta, and to marry the young King to a 
princess capable of at once giving him an heir Double interest of the 
favourite in the accomplishment of this design Question of the remarriage 
of Monsieur le Due Madame de Prie, unable to oppose this, selects Marie 
Leczinska Rupture of the Spanish marriage Exasperation of the Court 
of Madrid Difficulty of finding a suitable consort for Louis XV. 
Madame de Prie accused of having barred the way of Mile, de Ver- 
mandois to the crown matrimonial The favourite advocates the claims 
of Marie Leczinska, who is eventually chosen Triumph of Madame de 
Prie Arrival of the new Queen A model husband Growing unpopu- 
larity of the Government and increasing influence of Fleury An unsuc- 
cessful intrigue Madame de Prie retires from Court, but Monsieur le Due 
insists on her return Disgrace of Monsieur le Due His mother and his 
mistress follow him to Chantilly Madame de Prie is exiled to Normandy 
A touching farewell Chivalrous behaviour of the prince Death of 
Madame de Prie Remarriage of Monsieur le Ditc His death . . 332-350 



From a Painting by an unknown artist, in the collection of M. de 

By permission of MM. Plan Nourrit 



Louis I. DE BOURBON, PRINCE DE CONDE ... ^ ... 26 
From an Engraving after a Drawing by JANET 


From a Drawing by an unknown artist 


From an Engraving by DELPECH, after the Painting by MAUZAISSE 

From an Engraving by MIGER, after the Painting by LE MONNIER 


From an Engraving by MATHONIER 

From an Engraving by JACQUES LUBIN 

From an Engraving by MONCORNET 


From a Miniature in the South Kensington Museum 


CONDE) 238 

From an Engraving by MONCORNET 




COND6) 2 S2 

From an Engraving by POILLY, after the Painting by MIGNARD 

From a Contemporary Print 

LB Due) 264 

From a Contemporary Print 



From a Contemporary Print 


MONSIEUR LE Due) . 300 

From an Engraving by P. BREVET, after the Painting by GOBERT 


From an Engraving by BREVET, after the Painting by HYACINTHE 


From an Engraving by BREVET, after the Painting by LE PRIEUR 



Origin of the House of Condd Louis de Bourbon, first prince of the 
name His modest d&but at the Court His personal appearance and 
character Enmity between the Bourbons and the Guises Condd attaches 
himself to the party of the Connetable Anne de Montmorency, and marries 
the tetter's niece, Eldonore de Roye Noble character of ^Idonore 
Gallantries of Conde" His early military career Death of Henry II. 
Progress of the Reformation in France Conde* embraces Protestantism and 
places himself at the head of the opposition to the Guises He is arrested 
at Orleans, brought to trial for high treason and condemned to death But 
is saved by the opportune death of Frangois II. 

THE Condes and the Bourbons have a common origin. 
Both families descend from Robert de France, 
Comte de Clermont, youngest son of St. Louis. 
An ancient barony, the inheritance of that prince's wife, was 
erected into a dukedom in favour of Louis, his son, and gave 
to his descendants the name which they have retained, that 
of France being reserved for the royal branch. 

After the death, without issue, of the Connetable de Bourbon 
at the assault of Rome in May 1527, his brother, Charles, Due 
de Venddme, became first Prince of the Blood, though, owing to 
the profound mistrust with which Frangois I. now regarded the 
Bourbons, he never acquired either the authority or influence 
that so high a position ought to have given him. Nor did he 
succeed in recovering any of the vast possessions of the Constable, 
which were definitely alienated from his House, and, on his 
death in 1538, he left but a scanty fortune. This was the more 

B I 


regrettable, since his wife, Frangoise d'Alengon, had borne him 
no less than thirteen children : seven sons and six daughters. 
Of the daughters, four entered religion ; one died unmarried, 
and the last became the wife of Frangois de Cleves, Due de 
Nevers. Of the sons, five lived to attain their majority, though 
only one survived middle-age and died a natural death, and he 
was in holy orders. They were : 

1. Antoine, Due de Vendome, born 22 April, 1518 ; became, 
through his marriage with Jeanne d'Albret, King of Navarre ; 
died 17 November, 1562, from the effects of a wound received 
at the siege of Rouen. 

2. Frangois, Comte d'Enghien, born 23 September, 1519; 
commanded the French army in the great victory of Ceresole, 
14 April, 1544 ; died 23 February, 1546, from the result of what 
was probably an accident, but was by many attributed to 
deliberate intent. 1 

3. Charles, Cardinal de Bourbon (" le cardinal des bouteilles "), 
who was proclaimed King of France by the League after the 
death of Henri III.); born 22 December, 1523; died 9 May, 

4. Jean, Comte de Soissons, and, after the death of his 
brother Frangois, Comte d'Enghien ; born 6 July, 1526 ; killed 
at the battle of Saint-Quentin, 15 August, 1557. 

1 The Court was staying at the Chateau of la Roche-Guyon, not far from Mantes. 
As there had been a heavy fall of snow, Fra^ois I. suggested that the younger 
members of the Court should organize a snowball-fight. Sides were accordingly 
formed ; one led by the Dauphin and Fra^ois de Lorraine, afterwards Due de Guise, 
defending a house ; the other, led by Enghien, besieging it. " During the combat," says 
Martin du Bellay, " some ill-advised person threw a linen-chest out of the window, 
which fell on the Sieur d'Enghien's head, and inflicted such injuries that he died a 
few days later." Du Bellay does not give the name of the " ill-advised person," but 
certain writers, less reticent, name Fra^ois de Guise, and have even gone so far as 
to assert that he acted by orders of the Dauphin, who was jealous of Enghien's 
military fame, while others say that he was a certain Conte di Bentivoglio, an Italian 
noble in the service of the Guises, whom they accuse of having instigated the deed. 
It is probable, however, that the death of Enghien was due merely to one of those 
acts of brutal horse-play so common at this epoch, and that the culprit, whoever he 
may have been, was innocent of any homicidal intention. See on this matter the 
author's "Henri II.: his Court and Times" (London, Methuen ; New York, 
Scribner, 1910). 


5. Louis, Prince de Cond6, born at the Chateau of Venddme, 
7 May, 1530 ; killed at the battle of Jarnac, 13 March, 1569. 

Two of these princes married and founded families : 
Antoine, who was the father of Henri IV., and the ancestor of 
all the Bourbons now living, and Louis, who was the root of 
the House of Cond and all its branches. 

Louis, the youngest brother, was only in his eighth year at 
the time of his father's death. Of his boyhood nothing whatever 
is known, though, as his widowed mother, who lived in strict 
retirement, was scarcely the person best fitted to superintend 
that chivalrous education which was deemed indispensable for a 
lad of high birth, it is probable that he was brought up by his 
brother-in-law, the Due de Nevers, or some other male relative. 
The earliest recorded mention of him occurs in the Domestic 
Roll of Henri II. for the year 1549, where he appears under the 
name of " Louis M r de Vendome, gentleman of the chamber to 
the King, at a salary of 1200 livres." 

The precise time and occasion of his assuming the title 
which he and his descendants were to render so illustrious are 
likewise involved in obscurity. The Due d'Aumale asserts 
that the earliest official document in which it is given, is in the 
proems-verbal of the Bed of Justice held on 15 January, 1557 ; l 
but since the duke wrote it has been discovered that he is thus 
qualified in at least half-a-dozen other deeds previous to that date, 
the earliest being an acte seigneurial of 30 March, 1553 ; while 
Henri II., in a letter to the Due de Nevers written on 12 June, 
1554, refers to the duke's youngest brother-in-law as "My 
cousin, the Prince de Cond6." a 

Equal uncertainty prevails as to whether he derived the title 
from Cond^-sur-1'Escaut or Cond e'-en-Brie, both of which lord- 
ships seem to have been owned by his father, Charles, Due de 
Venddme. " The best known of the chroniclers of the family, 
Desormeaux," observes the Due d'Aumale, "declares it to be 
beyond all doubt that the first prince derived his name from 

1 " Histoire des Princes de Conde." 

* Comte Jules Delaborde, "leonore de Roye, Princesse de Conde", 1535- 


Cond-en-Brie. Indeed, in the marriage-contract of Louis I., 
the lordship of Conde-en-Brie appears in the list of the prince's 
possessions. He owned a chateau there, at which he often 
resided, and executed various deeds, whereas there is no official 
document relating to him known to exist in which any mention 
is made of Conde-sur-l'Escaut. But another historian of the 
family, 1'Hullier, who, though a tedious and very dull writer, 
has left in MS. many historical and genealogical memoirs, of 
which Desormeaux has often made use, declares himself in 
favour of Conde-sur-l'Escaut ; and the Convention appeared to 
be of the same opinion, by its naming that place " Nord-libre." 
The illustrious author modestly " leaves to more learned 
historians the task of solving the question," but the majority 
of modern writers are inclined to favour the claims of Conde- 
sur-l'Escaut, though, apparently, for no better reason than 
because it is the more important of the two places. 

Few Princes of the Blood have made a more modest cttbut at 
the Court of France than the first of the Condds. Since the 
treason of the Connetable de Bourbon his family had fallen into 
a sort of discredit, and, though, in the last years of the previous 
reign, the partiality shown by Frangois I. for the young Comte 
d'Enghien had seemed a promise of returning favour, the 
untimely death of the count, followed by that of the King, soon 
dissipated their hopes. When the head of the house, Antoine, 
Due de Venddme, was hard put to maintain a position in 
accordance with his rank, there was little enough for his younger 
brothers ; and Louis de Bourbon made his appearance at Court 
so quietly dressed and with so modest a suite as to provoke no 
small merriment at his expense among the gorgeous butterflies 
of both sexes who adorned the salons of the Louvre and the 
gallery of the Tournelles. 

Nor was there anything in the personal appearance of this 
youth of nineteen to suggest the great part that he was to play 
in after years. Unlike his ancestors, who had been tall men of 
imposing presence, he was short and slightly built, and some 
anecdote-mongers even represent him as hump-backed. Admit- 
ting however, that he may have been round-shouldered, the 


imputation of actual deformity is scarcely reconcilable with the 
well-known popular song concerning him : 

" Ce petit homme tant jolly, 
Qui toujours cause et toujours ry 
Et toujours baise sa mignonne, 
Dieu gard' de mal le petit homme." 

Moreover, if somewhat diminutive in stature, he was H nim- 
ble and vigorous, and as adroit at martial exercises, both on foot 
and on horseback, as any man in France." l His features, too, 
were pleasing without being regular, and illuminated by a pair 
of very bright eyes ; he had excellent natural abilities, and 
had not neglected to cultivate them, being exceptionally well- 
informed and a good conversationalist, with a touch of sarcasm, 
which, however, his good-humour deprived of its sting, and 
** agreeable, accessible, and amiable." 2 

The young prince was, therefore, not without qualifications 
to ensure advancement at Court, but in the two most essential 
wealth and influence he was conspicuously lacking. The 
absence of the first might have mattered little had he possessed 
the second, but the cloud under which the Bourbons had lain 
for a quarter of a century showed no sign of lifting. Henri II., 
who had ascended the throne two years before Condi's arrival 
at Court, was a well-meaning man, who sincerely desired to 
do his duty and promote the interests of his subjects, but he 
was " born to be governed, rather than to govern," 3 and was 
surrounded by ambitious and greedy favourites, who thought 
only of exploiting him for their own selfish ends. In the early 
days of the new reign, the favour of the King had been divided 
between his mature mistress, Diane de Poitiers, Duchesse de 
Valentinois, and his old friend, the Connetable Anne de 
Montmorency, who, disgraced by Francois I. in I543> had, on 
the death of that monarch, been recalled to Court and entrusted 
with the direction of affairs. Diane, however, jealous of the 
influence of the Constable, formed an alliance with the Guises, 
those able and ambitious Lorraine princes who were to play so 
conspicuous a part in all the troubles of the latter half of the 

1 Brantome. * Ibid. * Beaucaire. 


sixteenth century ; Frangois de Lorraine, who succeeded his 
father as Due de Guise in the spring of 1550, and his brother, 
Charles, the second Cardinal de Lorraine, became two of the 
King's most trusted advisers ; and they and their younger 
brothers were loaded with honours and benefits. Henri II.'s 
favourites stood like a bodyguard around the throne to prevent 
any one else approaching it ; their greed was insatiable ; 
" estates, dignities, bishoprics, abbeys, offices, no more escaped 
them than do the flies the swallow ; there was not a choice 
morsel that was not snapped up in a moment." l 

For the Bourbons to have attempted to break through this 
bodyguard and insinuate themselves into the good graces of 
their Sovereign would have been a hopeless task ; and they soon 
recognized that their only chance of bettering their fallen for- 
tunes was to follow the example of the other courtiers and 
attach themselves to one or other of the favourites who 
governed the King, in the hope that some scraps of the royal 
bounty might be passed on to them. From the party of 
Diane de Poitiers and the Guises they had nothing to expect, 
for, though the two families were closely connected, 2 their re- 
lations were exceedingly strained. In both Court and camp 
their paths crossed ; and the sinister rumours to which the 
death of the young victor of Ceresole had given rise is an 
eloquent testimony to the jealousy which existed between them. 
Since the death of Frangois I., who had regarded the Guises 
with profound mistrust, and in his last hours had warned his son 
to be on his guard against them, since " their aim was to strip 
him to his doublet, and his people to their shirts," 3 the 
Lorraines had plainly shown their determination to keep the 
Bourbons in the background, and not content with enjoying 
the privileges of foreign princes, had profited by the impotence 
of their kinsmen to usurp those of the Princes of the Blood. 

Policy and inclination therefore both prompted the Bourbons 

1 Vincent Carloix, " Memoires sur le marechal de Vieilleville." 

* Antoinette de Bourbon, sister to Charles de Bourbon, Due de Vend6me, 

Conde's father, had married Claude de Lorraine, Due de Guise, and was the mother 

of Due Francois de Guise and his brothers. 
De Thou. 


to attach themselves to the opposition, or Montmorency faction. 
This party, though it attracted to its ranks fewer of the Court 
nobility than did that of the Duchesse de Valentinois and the 
Guises, was supported by the bulk of the provincial noblesse, 
and Montmorency 's great wealth and official position he was 
Grand Master of the King's Household as well as Constable 
of France enabled him to dispense extensive patronage. He 
had five sons and seven daughters, besides numerous nephews 
and nieces, and he did his duty nobly by them all, and allowed 
no opportunity to pass of advancing the importance of his 
family and enriching his relatives and friends. Conde, more 
ambitious than his brothers, determined to establish claims on 
the great man's favour which it would be difficult for him to 
overlook, and, towards the end of the year 1550, demanded in 
marriage the hand of 6leonore de Roye, eldest daughter and 
heiress of Charles, Seigneur de Roye and de Muret, Comte de 
Roncy, an alliance which would unite him with the two great 
Houses of Montmorency and Chatillon. For lile'onore de 
Roye's mother, Madeleine de Mailly, was the daughter of 
Louise de Montmorency, sister of the Constable ; l and Louise 
de Montmorency, by her second marriage with the Mardchal de 
Chatillon, was the mother of the future Admiral, Gaspard de 
Coligny, and of his two brothers, Odet, Cardinal de Chatillon, 
and Francois, Seigneur d'Andelot. 

The consent of the young lady's parents was readily given. 
They could not, indeed, fail to be flattered by such a proposal 
from a Prince of the Blood, besides which they felt that this 
young man, frank, brave, chivalrous, and amiable, was a husband 
of whom any girl might well be proud, and ought to have a 
brilliant future before him. It is possible that the rumours of 
their prospective son-in-law's addiction to feminine society 
which had reached them may have occasioned them some mis- 
givings ; but Gaspard de Coligny, who had negotiated the affair, 
assured them that marriage would change all that, and that he 
had no doubt that, once in possession of the prince's affections, 
lonore would be able to fix them permanently. This, in view 
1 By her marriage with Fery II. de Mailly, Baron de Conty. 


of what we shall presently relate, seems a decidedly bold assertion ; 
but then Coligny, the most faithful of husbands, was generously 
inclined to judge others by himself; while the political advan- 
tages of a match which would unite the Houses of Montmorency, 
Bourbon and Chatillon, and counterbalance the exorbitant credit 
of the Guises, may well have disposed him to regard the young 
prince's gallantries with a lenient eye. 

After being accepted by the Comte and Comtesse de Roye, 
the project was submitted to the Constable, who was graciously 
pleased to approve of it, and promised to obtain the sanction of 
the King. This proved far from an easy task, as Diane de 
Poitiers and the Guises did everything possible to persuade his 
Majesty to refuse his consent ; but, in the end, Montmorency 
triumphed over their opposition, and on June 22, 1551, the 
marriage was celebrated at the Chateau of Plessis-les-Roye, by 
the Cardinal de Bourbon, the bridegroom's uncle. 

This marriage added little to Conde's fortune, but it brought 
him " an inexhaustible treasure of affection and devotion." " If 
ever, in fact," writes an enthusiastic biographer, " a young girl, 
pure and loving, entered married life with the energetic resolution 
to consecrate all the living forces of her soul to the practice of 
the most holy duties, and raised herself by her piety and her 
virtues, by the generosity of her soul and the heroism of her 
character, to the rank of a. femme d ttite, it was this incomparable 
l6onore de Roye, who, from the day of her union with Louis 
de Bourbon, became for this prince, and remained up to the day 
when she succumbed prematurely to the cruel attacks of disease, 
a tender and submissive companion, a faithful friend, an immov- 
able support in time of trial." 1 

Amidst that band of noble Huguenot ladies, who in the evil 
days to come so bravely upheld their persecuted faith against 
the overwhelming forces arrayed against it, and inspired their 
disheartened co-religionists with fresh energy and enthusiasm to 
maintain the unequal struggle, there is no nobler figure than 
that of 6le"onore de Roye. Less capable, less ambitious, than 
Jeanne d'Albret, she is infinitely more attractive, for she 

1 Comte Jules Delaborde, " feleonore de Roye, Princesse de Conde." 


possessed a boundless fund of sympathy, an exquisite tact, and 
a charity which was but too seldom found among the leaders of 
"the Religion." 

Catholic as well as Protestant writers bear homage to the 
charms and virtues of this admirable woman. " She was a lady 
of much intelligence, of heroic courage, and of an admirable 
chastity," says De Thou ; Le Laboureur, while describing her as 
" a very obstinate Huguenot," admits that she was " beautiful 
and very virtuous " ; l while De*sormeaux declares that she 
yielded to none of her sex in beauty, in grace, in intelligence and 
in chastity, and that she " surpassed every one in knowledge, in 
courage, and in magnanimity." 2 

Conde" could not be indifferent to the devotion of such a 
woman, and there can be no doubt that, for a long time, he 
reciprocated her affection and that he always entertained for her 
a sincere regard. Nevertheless, his marriage did little to subdue 
his taste for gallantry, and his attentions to the light beauties of 
the Court must often have caused her the keenest pain. " The 
good prince," observes Brantdme, " was as worldly as his neigh- 
bour and loved other people's wives as much as his own, par- 
taking largely of the nature of the Bourbons, who have always 
been of a very amorous complexion." 

If, however, Conde" shared his family's weakness for the fair 
sex, he shared also its taste for a military career, and, for some 
years after his marriage, it was the camp rather than the Court 
which claimed the greater part of his time. The long and bitter 
struggle between the Houses of France and Austria, closed for 
a time by the Peace of Crepy, broke out afresh in the early 
summer of 1551, in Italy, where Henry II. and Charles V., 
though still nominally at peace, intervened in the dispute 
between Pope Julius III. and his vassal Ottavio Farnese, Duke 
of Parma. Conde", though only a few days married, at once 
demanded and obtained permission to serve as a volunteer in the 
Army of Italy, commanded by the Marechal de Brissac, and set 
out for Piedmont. 

1 " Additions aux Memoires de Castelnau." 
* " Histoiie de la Maison de Bourbon." 


When Louis Joseph de Bourbon, Prince de Conde*, went to 
the wars, two centuries later, he took with him an immense 
retinue of servants, and a long procession of carts and carriages, 
to transport which over two hundred horses were required ; 1 
while a whole regiment had to be detached for the protection of 
his precious person. His ancestor must have started on his first 
campaign in very different fashion ; indeed, there was probably 
little to distinguish him from the crowd of gentlemen volunteers 
whom the prospect of some hard fighting had drawn across the 
Alps ; and he evidently did not disdain to perform the work of 
the humblest soldier, since we hear of him toiling for two whole 
nights at the task of dragging the guns up the steep heights 
which commanded the Castle of Lantz. At the conclusion of 
the campaign, in which he had given abundant proof that he 
possessed all the courage of his race, although his general had 
found him "a little difficult to manage," he reappeared for a 
brief interval at Court, and then, in the spring of 1552, took part 
in the "Austrasian expedition," that military promenade through 
the Rhine country which gave to France, almost without striking 
a blow, Metz, Toul, and Verdun. 

In the autumn of the same year, when Charles V., freed from 
his Germanic embarrassments by the agreement of Passau, 
laid siege to Metz, Conde" and his brother, the second Comte 
d'Enghien, were among the young nobles who received per- 
mission " to take their pleasure at the siege." The two Bourbon 
princes were entrusted with the defence of a part of the ramparts, 
and acquitted themselves with courage and capacity. 

The summer of 1553 found Conde! in Picardy, sharing with 
the Due de Nemours the command of the light cavalry. In an 
engagement with the Imperialist cavalry at Doullens, he brought 
up four squadrons at a critical moment, and, by a brilliant 
charge on the enemy's flank, decided the day. In the following 
year, he commanded the light cavalry on the Meuse and dis- 
tinguished himself at the combat at Renty, and in 1555 he 
returned to the Army of Italy, in which he rendered excellent 
service on several occasions, notably at the siege of Vulpiano. 

1 " Mcmoircs du Due de Luynes." 


But the enmity of the Guises barred the way to the royal 
favour, and when, in 1556, the Truce of Vaucelles put an end to 
the war, the only recompense he had been able to obtain was the 
captaincy of a compagnie d'ordonnance, the nearest equivalent to 
a modern regiment 1 

The truce, which had been concluded for five years, was 
soon broken, and at the beginning of 1557 the dogs of war were 
again slipped. In the summer, the Spaniards invaded Picardy 
and laid siege to Saint-Quentin, on the Somme, one of the 
bulwarks of Paris. Realizing the importance of saving a town 
the fall of which would open the road to the capital, the 
Constable hurried northwards with all the troops he could muster, 
and Conde accompanied him. The overwhelming superiority of 
the enemy in numbers, however, decided Montmorency not to 
risk an engagement, but merely to make a feint against the 
besiegers' lines, and, under cover of this movement, to throw 
reinforcements and provisions into the town, after which he 
intended to retire. But the non-arrival of the boats required to 
transport the reliefs across the Somme caused a delay of more 
than two hours ; and, when Montmorency began to retire, he found 
that the enemy had crossed the river by a ford of which he 
appears to have been in ignorance, seized the only road by which 
he could retreat, and cut his army right in two. 

Surprised and hopelessly outnumbered, the French were 
routed with terrible loss. Condi's brother, the gallant Comte 
d'Enghien, was among the slain, while the Constable and the 
Marechal de Saint-Andr were taken prisoners. Condi himself, 
who was stationed with part of the light cavalry on the extreme 
right wing of the army, displayed the most admirable courage 
and presence of mind amid the general panic, and, keeping his 
men together, succeeded in cutting his way through the victo- 
rious Spaniards and reaching La Fere. He lost no time in taking 
the field again and kept it throughout the autumn, continually 
harassing the enemy and attacking their foraging-parties and 
convoys. So much activity and vigour on the morrow of a great 

1 A compagnie cTordonnance was composed of from seventy-five to three hundred 
men, one third being men-at-arms, or heavy cavalry, the rest foot-soldiers. 


defeat undoubtedly merited some substantial recognition ; but 
when, at the beginning of the following year, he solicited the 
post of colonel-general of the light cavalry which he had so 
gallantly led, he was, to his intense mortification, passed over in 
favour of the Due de Nemours, the candidate of the Guises. It 
is true that, by way of compensation, he was nominated colonel- 
general of the Cisalpine infantry, that is to say, of the infantry 
stationed in Piedmont ; but, since France had lately withdrawn 
all her troops from Piedmont with the exception of a few 
garrisons, the appointment was regarded as an affront rather 
than an honour. 

The Peace of Cateau-Cambrsis, which was concluded in the 
following spring, prevented Conde from acquiring any further 
military distinction in the service of his country, and henceforth 
whatever laurels fell to his share were gained on fields where 
Frenchmen were opposed to Frenchmen. If, however, the life 
of Henri II. had been prolonged only a little while, it is almost 
certain that the prince's faithful services would not have remained 
unrewarded ; for both the King and Diane de Poitiers were 
becoming seriously alarmed at the growing power and arrogance 
of the Guises, and the latter had broken with them and formed 
an alliance with Montmorency. But before the summer was 
over, Henri II. slept with his fathers at Saint-Denis ; Diane and 
the Constable had been disgraced, and the Guises.'thanks to the 
marriage of their niece, Mary Stuart, to the new King, had 
become the masters of France. 

Condi's patience had been severely tried during the reign 
which had just terminated ; and it was scarcely to be expected 
that a young prince of his ambitious and energetic character 
would resign himself to the sight of the royal authority con- 
centrated in the hands of those whose aim it had always been 
to exclude his family from their rightful share in the direction of 
affairs. Nor were the means for giving very effective expression 
to his dissatisfaction wanting. 

The Reformation in France, which had made immense strides 
during the last years of Henri II., notwithstanding the fierce, if 


intermittent, persecution to which it had been subjected, had 
ceased to be a purely religious movement and was developing 
into a formidable political combination with which it was the 
interest of discontented and ambitious nobles to make common 
cause, without in any way partaking of its spiritual aspirations. 
Cond6, with his gay and pleasure-loving nature, could have had 
but little sympathy with the austere tenets of Calvinism, and it 
is probable that the mortifications he had experienced, the 
hope of uniting his fortunes with the chances of success which 
the Reformers were able to offer, and, above all, his hatred of the 
Guises, contributed far more than religious convictions to decide 
him to embrace their faith and their cause. His elder brother, 
Antoine, who, on the death of his father-in-law Henri d'Albret, 
in 1555, had succeeded to the throne of Navarre, had already 
done so, but, though brave enough in war, he was irresolute and 
shifty to the last degree, and now, when faced with the necessity 
for vigorous action, he declined to compromise himself; and it 
was therefore to the second Prince of the Blood that the 
Huguenots and the swarm of disbanded soldiers and dis- 
appointed office-seekers whom the Guises had driven into the 
ranks of the opposition looked for leadership. How far Cond6 
was implicated in the Conspiracy of Amboise, whether or no he 
was the chef muet who, in the event of a first success, was to 
place himself at the head of the movement, is a question which is 
never likely to be satisfactorily answered. It is sufficient that he 
was almost universally identified with that mysterious personage 
at the time, and that this belief came near to costing him his life. 
Athough permitted, after his indignant denial of the charge, 
to withdraw from Court, he and the King of Navarre, notwith- 
standing the entreaties of the Princesse de Conde", most impru- 
dently resolved to obey the summons of Frangois II. to the 
States- General at Orleans. It was to place his head in the lion's 
mouth, for in the interval fresh evidence, or what might pass for 
evidence, against him had been obtained, and the Guises were 
resolved on his destruction. On 30 October, 1560, the two 
princes arrived at Orleans. The King received them with 
ominous coldness, and, as Conde" was leaving the apartments of 


the Queen-Mother, where the audience had taken place, he was 
arrested, and conducted to a house near the convent of the 
Jacobins, which was immediately barred up, surrounded by 
soldiers, and transformed into a veritable Bastille. His wife, 
who, on learning of his arrest, had hastened to Orleans, was 
refused permission to see him ; his attendants were withdrawn, 
and he was kept in the most absolute solitude. 

Catherine de' Medici, who at this time possessed little or no 
power, and had been compelled, from the instinct of self-preser- 
vation, to cling to the Guises, pretended to approve of what had 
been done, and replied to all who besought her not to allow the 
prince to be brought to trial. "It is my son's will." She 
confined her efforts to saving the King of Navarre, who was 
merely kept under surveillance in his apartments. 

Although, as a Prince of the Blood, it was Conde's undoubted 
privilege to be tried by the Grande Chambre of the Parlement 
in Paris, in which the princes and peers sat, the King entrusted 
his examination to a commission of judges presided over by 
Christophe de Thou, First President of the Parlement. Conde 
denied the competency of this tribunal, and "appealed from 
the King ill-advised to the King better-advised." But his im- 
prudence in accepting the services of two advocates gave a 
semblance of legality to the proceedings, and his appeals and 
protests having been overruled by the Privy Council, in which 
such was the fear inspired by the Guises that no one dared to 
utter a word in his defence, on 26 November, he was sentenced 
" to lose his head on the scaffold." 

It was at first considered probable that the King's clemency 
would be extended to his condemned kinsman, " in considera- 
tion of his youth," and every effort was made by the Princesse 
de Cond6, the Chatillons, and other persons of high rank to 
secure a remission of the sentence. But nothing less than the 
death of their rival would satisfy the Guises, and, though the 
Chancellor de 1'Hdpital, under the pretext of some legal flaw in 
the decree, succeeded in delaying the execution, it was finally 
fixed for 10 December, and the scaffold on which it was to 
take place was erected before the royal lodging. 


Conde, whose courage had never once failed him, was calmly 
awaiting his fate, and actually playing cards with some of the 
officers who guarded him, when one of his servants, who had 
been permitted to attend him, approached as though to pick up 
a fallen card, and whispered: "Notre Jiomme est croquH" 
Mastering his emotion, the prince finished his game, and then, 
taking the man aside, learned from him that Frangois II. was 
dead. The sickly young King had been taken ill on 16 Novem- 
ber, and, though he so far recovered as to preside over the 
Council which passed judgment against Conde, on the following 
day his malady assumed a grave form, and on 5 December an 
abscess which had formed in the ear suddenly broke, and he 
died in a few minutes. 

Foreseeing her eldest son's approaching end, Catherine de* 
Medici, on the advice of 1'Hopital, had determined to save the 
Bourbons, in order to use them to counterbalance the Guises 
and assure the independence of the royal power of which she 
was about to hold the reins. Scarcely had Frangois II. drawn 
his last breath, when the old Connetable de Montraorency, 
hastily summoned by her, arrived at Orleans, at the head of eight 
hundred gentlemen ; and the despotism of the Lorraine princes 
was at an end. 

The death of Frangois II. opened the doors of Condi's 
prison, but the prince, who attached more importance to his 
honour than his liberty, refused to accept the latter until the 
former had been publicly vindicated, and, in the meanwhile, 
announced his intention of remaining where he was. In this 
decision he was supported by his wife, but, as his health had 
suffered during his imprisonment, she persuaded him, towards 
the end of December, to exchange the severe regime of his 
detention at Orleans for a mitigated captivity, more apparent 
than real, in the form of residence on an estate belonging to 
the King of Navarre, near la Fere, in Picardy. Here he 
remained for some weeks, when he returned to Court, where his 
innocence was acknowledged by a declaration of the new King, 
Charles IX., which was subsequently confirmed by the Parlement, 
and he was restored to his former position. 


Critical condition of France at the accession of Charles IX. Character 
and policy of Catherine de' Medici The Triumvirate Catherine leans to 
the side of the Reformers The " Edict of January " Massacre of Vassy 
Cond remains faithful to the Protestant cause Beginning of the civil war 
The Protestants, at first successful, soon in a desperate position Conde" 
turns to England for aid : Treaty of Hampton Court Fall of Rouen 
Condd marches on Paris Battle of Dreux : the prince taken prisoner 
Second captivity of Conde Assassination of Guise Conference on the Ile- 
aux-Bceufs The maids-of-honour Peace of Amboise Cond follows the 

NEVER had the internal condition of France been more 
critical, never had she stood more in need of a strong 
and wise government, than at the moment when the 
imaginary majority of Francois II. was succeeded by the real 
minority of Charles IX. The danger which threatened her was 
no longer, as in the time of the last Sovereign of that name, a 
struggle between individual ambitions ; private ambitions had 
now identified themselves with the living forces of the nation ; 
the whole of the nobility and gentry were already engaged in 
the quarrel of the great factions which divided France, and the 
mass of the people only awaited the signal to follow their 

And the person who was called upon to deal with this 
critical situation was Catherine de' Medici, a woman, a foreigner. 
During the reign of her husband, Catherine had perforce 
remained in the background, Henri II. being completely under 
the influence of his mistress, Diane de Poitiers ; under Frangois 
II., the government, as we have seen, had fallen into the hands 
of the Guises, and she had been, politically speaking, a mere 
cipher. But the early death of her eldest son had given her the 
opportunity which she so ardently desired for all her life she 



had hungered for power and influence as a starving man hungers 
for bread and having persuaded the King of Navarre to resign 
his claims to the Regency, in consideration of receiving the 
title of Lieutenant-General of the Kingdom, she at once assumed 
a quasi-absolute authority. She brought to the task a remark- 
able knowledge of men and affairs the fruit of long years of 
quiet study and observation a boundless activity, an untiring 
vigilance, a charm of manner which few who came into contact 
with her could resist, and a soul depraved by a life of subjection 
and dissimulation. Her master-passion was to govern through 
her sons, and she dreaded every influence which might weaken 
by one iota her personal authority. 

To a certain extent, she succeeded in preserving this, but, 
though sincerely anxious to maintain peace, she was powerless 
to save France from the anarchy which menaced her. For she 
was timid, shifty, and irresolute, and incapable of any noble 
aim ; while it is also probable that she failed to recognize, at 
any rate until matters had gone too far to be remedied, the 
gravity of the situation. " To divide in order to reign " was the 
principle upon which she acted ; to give a little encouragement 
to k the Huguenots, to instil a little apprehension into the 
Catholics, and to accustom both parties to regard her as the 
dominating factor in the situation. The result was that she 
was distrusted by both alike, and hastened the very calamity 
she desired to avert. 

And this calamity was rapidly approaching. Calvinism 
was not, as certain Protestant historians would have us believe, 
a sect which demanded nothing but the liberty to worship God 
in its own way ; it was violent, intolerant, propagandist, and, 
under the influence of the exiles who had tasted democracy in 
Switzerland, and of the discontented nobles who exploited it 
for their own ends, was becoming as much a political as a 
religious organisation. Thus, it deliberately provoked persecu- 
tion and played into the hands of its most implacable enemies. 
The coalition which had been formed to check the ambition of 
the Guises was dissolved ; while Conde and Coligny turned 
openly to Protestantism, the Constable, a rigid Catholic and a 


fervent absolutist, joined hands with those who had formerly 
plotted his ruin, and formed with the Due de Guise and the 
Marechal de Saint-Andre" a new Catholic league, the ill-omened 
Triumvirate. Shortly afterwards, the vain and fickle Antoine 
de Bourbon, allured by what de Thou calls " the entertainment 
of hopes " dangled before his eyes by Philip II. of Spain, 
renounced both his family ties and his Protestant convictions 
and joined the Triumvirs. 

Nevertheless, during the latter part of the year 1561 the 
Court was certainly rallying to the side of the Reformers, for 
the King of Navarre's accession to the Triumvirate had given 
the latter such a predominance that Catherine was obliged to 
seek a counterpoise. It was with her warm approval that the 
Colloquy of Poissy took place, in the hope of arriving at some 
settlement of the chief differences between the two religions. 
The latitudinarian Prince de la Roche-sur-Yon was appointed 
the young King's goiiverneur ; Coligny's brother Andelot, most 
stalwart of Huguenots, was admitted to the Council. The 
celebrated Theodore de Beze was invited to Paris ; the King 
and Queen-Mother went to hear him preach, and he and other 
eminent divines expounded Calvinistic doctrines daily in the 
lodgings of Conde and Coligny to the ladies and gentlemen of 
the Court. The Huguenots in the provinces as well as in the 
capital were accorded a covert toleration, and the authorities 
recommended " to close their eyes to what only concerned the 
practice of their religion." 

But a much stronger hand than Catherine's was required to 
persuade the two religions to dwell together in even a pretence 
of harmony. The Huguenots were determined to be treated 
no longer as legal outcasts ; the High Catholic party, represented 
by the Triumvirate, was equally resolute to allow of no equality. 
After three months of argument and recrimination, and, at the 
last, of mere invective and abuse, the Colloquy of Poissy was 
dissolved ; daily disturbances broke out ; partisan feeling 
became more and more embittered ; the Regent was powerless 
to stem the fast rising tide of hatred. 

One last despairing effort for peace Catherine made. In the 


middle of January 1562, on the urgent advice of Conde, Coligny, 
and rH6pital, she promulgated the celebrated edict, known as 
the] " Edict of January," which recognized the legality of 
Protestant worship outside the walls of towns. The Huguenots 
were exultant ; the Catholics correspondingly exasperated ; 
disturbances, attended in several instances with bloodshed, 
occurred in the capital and in other towns ; and on March i, 
the Massacre of Vassy by Guise's followers kindled the long- 
expected conflagration. 

No effort had been spared by the Triumvirate to detach 
Conde 1 from the Reformers ; and the means which had proved 
so efficacious in the case of the King of Navarre had not been 
omitted. But the prince was made of sterner stuff than his 
brother ; beneath a somewhat frivolous exterior he concealed a 
haughty and resolute spirit, and this, joined to the influence of 
his noble wife, kept him true to the cause which he had es- 
poused. When the news of the massacre reached him, he was 
in Paris, where every Sunday he might have been seen, pistol 
in hand and accompanied by several hundred gentlemen on 
horseback, escorting Huguenot pastors through the howling mob 
to their meeting-place at Charenton. Furious with indignation, 
he lost not a moment in sending Beze to the Court, which was 
then at Fontainebleau, to demand that the massacreur of Vassy 
should not be permitted to enter Paris. " I speak," cried the 
divine, when the King of Navarre endeavoured to defend 
Guise, " for a Faith which is better in suffering than in avenging 
wrong ; but remember, Sire, that it is an anvil which has worn 
out many a hammer." 

Catherine, without declaring her intentions, wrote to the 
duke ordering him to join her "peu accompagne" at Monceaux, in 
Brie, whither she proceeded with the young King, and, at the 
same time, sent orders to the Marshal de Saint- Andre, who was 
in Paris, to repair to his government. Both declined to obey, 
and on March 16 Guise entered the capital at the head of 2000 
horse, and was hailed by the populace "comme envoyt de 

There were now in Paris two hostile camps, as in the time 


of the Bourguignons and Armagnacs ; and Catherine, fearing a 
collision, sent orders to Cond to leave Paris. Recognizing 
the impossibility of disputing the capital with the Catholics, he 
obeyed, and proceeded to Meaux, where, after some hesitation, 
Coligny joined him. Catherine and the young King had 
returned to Fontainebleau, and the former wrote to Conde" 
entreating him " to save the children, the mother and the king- 
dom." If he and Coligny had acted with energy and decision, 
they might have secured the person of the young Sovereign ; 
but they waited for reinforcements, and when at length they 
advanced towards Paris, they found that the Triumvirs had 
forestalled them, and that the King was in the hands of the 

Foiled in this attempt, Conde* turned southwards, with the 
intention of occupying Orleans, a place which, on account of its 
central position, would serve as an admirable base for his opera- 
tions, and, to some extent, counterbalance the advantage which 
the Triumvirs derived from the possession of the capital. 

On reaching Artenay, six leagues from Orleans, on the 
morning of April 2, he learned that Andelot, with a handful 
of men, had seized one of the gates of that town, and was 
holding it against the garrison and a part of the citizens. 
" He had with him about two thousand gentlemen and their 
valets, and, putting himself at their head, he set off at full 
gallop for the gate, and the whole pack after him." Baggage, 
horses, and men fell and rolled over in the dust, without any 
one attempting to draw rein, amid shouts of laughter from the 
reckless cavalcade, and to the great astonishment of peaceable 
travellers, who, ignorant that hostilities had broken out, asked 
one another if it were " an assembly of all the madmen in France." 
But the " madmen " swept along on their headlong course, and 
before noon had sounded from the clocks of Orleans, they were 
masters of the town and "of the taps of the most delicious wines 
of France." l 

" Under these joyous auspices," observed Henri ^Martin, 

1 La Noue, " Memoires." 


" began the most horrible civil war of modern times ; " and 
unhappy France became the scene of a frightful orgy of massacre, 
rape, and pillage. At first Fortune smiled upon the Reformers, 
who, thanks to the organization of their churches, were better 
prepared for hostilities than their adversaries. The principal 
towns of Central France, Tours, Blois, and Bourges, declared 
against the Triumvirate, and admitted Huguenot garrisons ; 
Rouen and Le Havre, in Normandy, Lyons and many cities in 
the South, fell into their hands. For a few weeks the move- 
ment seemed irresistible. But the Catholic party was by far 
the stronger. It had secured the person of the young King and 
forced Catherine to side with it, and thus had at its disposal the 
Treasury and most of the permanent forces of the realm. It 
appealed, also, to the Catholic States for assistance, and obtained 
from Phillip II. an auxiliary corps of 4000 Spaniards, which 
operated in Guienne and Gascony ; while the Duke of Savoy sent 
troops into the Rhdne valley. By the middle of August, all the 
towns seized at the outset by the Huguenots had been recovered, 
and the Protestant cause seemed well-nigh hopeless. 

Desperately pressed, Conde" turned to England for aid. 
Emissaries were dispatched to London, and on September 20, 
1562, the Vidame de Chartres, on behalf of the prince, signed 
the Treaty of Hampton Court, which stipulated that Le Havre 
and Dieppe were to be placed in Elizabeth's hands, in return 
for a loan of 140,000 crowns and a contingent of 6000 men. 
The vidame, however, went beyond his instructions, and per- 
mitted Cecil to insert an article whereby it was agreed that the 
English were to remain at Le Havre, not until the termination of 
the war, but until Calais was restored to them. 

The calling in of the hereditary enemy brought great odium 
upon the Huguenot leaders, nor did they derive from it the 
advantages upon which they had counted, since Elizabeth, 
desirous only of securing an equivalent for Calais, declined to 
allow her troops to pass beyond the lines of Le Havre and Dieppe. 
At the risk of incurring her anger, Sir Adrian Poynings, who 
commanded temporarily at Le Havre, pending the arrival of the 
Earl of Warwick, sent five hundred men to endeavour to make 


their way into Rouen, which was now closely invested by the 
royal troops. The majority succeeded in this desperate enter- 
prise, but they were powerless to save the town, which was 
taken by assault, after a siege during which the King of Navarre 
received a wound from which he died a month later, "still 
flattering himself with the hopes raised by the King of Spain." 
He left as his heir a boy nine years old, who was one day to 
succeed to the throne of France through the common ruin of 
the Valois and the Guises. 

The intervention of the English, if it had served no other 
purpose, had drawn off the Catholic army from its projected 
siege of Orleans, and Conde", ever sanguine, did not allow him- 
self to be cast down by the reverses his cause had sustained. 
" We have lost our two castles (Bourges and Rouen)," said he, 
employing a chess metaphor, " but we shall take their knights " ; 
and he was eager to stake the last chances of his party in a 
great battle. At the beginning of November, the news that a 
considerable force of German mercenaries, which Andelot had 
raised in the Rhineland, was on the march to join him, deter- 
mined the prince to quit Orleans and advance upon Paris. 
At Pithiviers, on November n, he affected his junction with 
the foreign levies, and, at the head of an army of some 15,000 
men, more than one-third of whom were cavalry, he moved 
slowly towards the capital, taking and pillaging the towns on 
his line of march. 

Paris was very weakly defended, most of its regular garrison 
being in the field with the Triumvirs, and, had he acted with 
vigour, he might have made himself master of at least a 
part of the city. But he allowed himself to be drawn into 
negotiations by Catherine, and the delay which these entailed 
enabled Guise to arrive with the advance-guard of the army 
which had been besieging Rouen. 

After a skirmish beneath the walls, and two unsuccessful 
attempts to take the city by camisado, Conde drew off his 
troops and marched into Normandy, with the intention of 
getting into touch with the English at Le Havre. But, owing 
principally to the immense number of carts for the conveyance 


of past and future plunder which the Germans insisted on 
taking with them, his army made such slow progress that the 
Triumvirs were able to outmarch it, and on December 19 the 
prince found them barring his road near the town of Dreux. 

The royal forces were superior in infantry and artillery to 
the Huguenots, but the latter had a decided preponderance in 
cavalry, and the battle which followed was long and obstinately 
contested. Conde, who had distinguished himself more by 
his intrepidity than his generalship, was unhorsed and taken 
prisoner ; the Constable, who commanded the royal army, 
experienced a like fate ; while Saint-Andre was killed. 1 The 
carnage on both sides was very great, but the Catholics 
remained masters of the field, though Coligny was able to draw 
off the beaten Huguenots in excellent order. 

The Constable was dispatched, in charge of Andelot, to 
Orleans, where he had the Princesse de Conde for hostess ; 
Conde was conducted by Montmorency's second son, the Baron 
de Damville, to whom he had surrendered, to the quarters of 
Guise. In these detestable wars, prisoners were often treated 
with great harshness and cruelty, and sometimes, as we have just 
seen, their lives were not even spared when they happened to 
fall into the hands of some personal enemy. But Guise received 
Conde with as much courtesy and deference as the Black 
Prince had shown his royal captive at Poitiers. He placed 
at his disposal the peasant's cottage in which he was quar- 
tered, apologizing for being compelled to give so poor a 
reception to so illustrious a visitor, and it was only at the 
prince's repeated request that he consented to share with him 
this humble lodging. They supped together off the same 
coarse fare, conversing amicably the while, and the same bundle 
of straw served them for a bed. The duke, however, could 
well afford to show magnanimity towards a fallen foe, for, now 
that the King of Navarre and Saint-Andre were dead, and 

1 Saint-Andr& had also been taken prisoner, but among his captors was a 
Huguenot gentleman named Bobigny whom he had deeply injured, and who 
proceeded to revenge himself by blowing out the unfortunate marshal's brains with a 


Conde and the Constable prisoners, he had no rival but Coligny 
to fear, and the predominance of his ambitious House seemed 

The day after the battle, Conde* was again entrusted to the 
care of Damville, who had only surrendered his prisoner to 
Guise as an act of deference, and who was subsequently 
constituted his legal custodian by a special authority from the 
King. Damville, who naturally regarded him as a hostage for 
the safety of his father, the Constable, guarded him very 
strictly, though his servants were allowed to remain with him, 
and a Huguenot pastor named Pdrussel, who had also been 
taken prisoner, was authorized to minister to his spiritual needs 
and conducted a long "prfche " in his chamber every day. 
After being successively conducted to Chartres, Blois, and 
Amboise in the wake of the Court, he was incarcerated by the 
Regent's orders, in the Chateau of Onzain, an old feudal 
fortress, about three leagues from the last-named town. 1 Here 
he succeeded in bribing two of his gaolers, and arranged with 
their assistance to escape in the disguise of a peasant. But 
one of the men betrayed the plot to Damville, and Conde 
learned that all had been discovered by seeing the other soldier 
dangling from a gibbet erected beneath his window. After this, 
the prince was deprived of his servants, placed in solitary con- 
finement, and most rigorously guarded ; and a rumour began 
to spread, though it was probably without foundation, that the 
Guises intended to compel Catherine to have him again brought 
to trial for high treason. 

Meanwhile, the Due de Guise had laid siege to Orleans, the 
last stronghold left to the Reformers. The town taken, it was 
his intention to call out the ban and arriere-ban, for which 
purpose a tax had been levied on the revenues of the Church, 
overwhelm Coligny, who with the Huguenot cavalry was over- 
running Normandy, drive the English from Le Havre and 

1 It was here that Lord Grey de Wilton had been incarcerated after being made 
prisoner at Guines, in 1558. His captor, the Comte de la Rochefoucauld, treated 
him most harshly, and he only recovered his liberty by the sacrifice of practically 
the whole of his fortune.. 


Dieppe, and convert his office of Lieutenant-General of the 
Kingdom, which the King had been obliged to confer upon him 
in recognition of his services at Dreux, into a dictatorship. 

The defenders of Orleans, decimated by famine and the 
plague, were incapable of offering more than a feeble resistance ; 
the outworks were quickly captured, and the final assault was 
daily expected, when, on the evening of February 15, 1563, 
while returning from a reconnaissance, the duke was mortally 
wounded by a Huguenot fanatic, Poltrot de Mere, who fired 
upon him from the shelter of a copse. He expired six days 
later, to the undisguised joy of the Reformers and to the secret 
relief of Catherine, who dreaded nothing so much as the 
prospect of a second period of Guise ascendancy. 

The death of the Due de Guise paved the way for peace ; 
and, through the intervention of Catherine and the Princesse de 
Conde, it was arranged that the prince and the Constable 
should meet and discuss its conditions. On March 7, two 
barges, the first coming from Orleans, the second from the 
opposite bank of the Loire, arrived at the Ile-aux-Boeufs, 
situated a little below the town. In one was the Constable, 
under the care of his nephew, Andelot ; in the other, Conde, 
under that of Damville. " There was a handsome boat ready 
for them, laid over with planks to make it broad and chamber- 
like, and covered with tapestry from the sun, where they should 
have ' parlemented ' together." But the uncle and nephew, 
unwilling to risk their conversation being overheard, "liked 
better to walk, which they did for two hours, d'Anville (sic), 
1' Aubespine and d'Aussy standing by, but not within hearing." l 

Then they parted, without having arrived at any agree- 
ment, since Condejnsisted that the " Edict of January " should 
be re-established in its entirety, to which Montmorency abso- 
lutely declined to consent, declaring that the Catholics would 
refuse to observe it. The Constable was escorted back to 
Orleans, and the prince to the Catholic camp at Saint-Mesmin. 

On the morrow, they returned to the Ile-aux-Bceufs. This 
time the prince's barge was followed by another, in which sat 

1 Smith to Cecil, March 12, 1563, State Papers (Elizabeth), Foreign Series. 


Catherine de' Medici, Conde's only surviving brother, the 
Cardinal de Bourbon, and the Due d'Aumale, and two of the 
Queen-Mother's maids of honour. It was remarked that 
these two damsels were the most beautiful of the bevy of young 
beauties whom Catherine had collected round her, and there 
was a shrewd suspicion that it was for that very reason they 
had been chosen to attend her Majesty upon this occasion. 
History has not preserved the name of the elder, but that of 
the younger was Isabelle de Latour-Limeuil, a lady who was 
destined to play a very prominent part in Conde's life. 

Conde was a bad subject for prison life, and the rigorous 
detention to which he had been subjected at the Chateau of 
Onzain had not been without its effect upon him ; he was 
anxious to safeguard the interests of his co-religionists, but he 
was still more anxious to recover his liberty. " The little man 
to whom I have spoken," wrote the Prince de la Roche-sur-Yon, 
who had had an interview with him some days before, to 
Catherine, " is very desirous to see the end of these troubles ; 
he will accommodate himself to everything." The writer had 
correctly judged the situation. 

The conference was renewed, this time in the presence of 
the Queen-Mother. Catherine had always exercised a great 
influence over Conde, and, only a few months before, in an 
interview between them at Thoury, she had all but brought him 
to conclude peace on her own conditions, when Coligny had 
interfered and caused the negotiations to be broken off. Now, 
however, Coligny was far away, and Catherine did not fail to 
press her advantage home. She made an eloquent appeal to the 
prince's patriotism ; she flattered him ; she " insinuated that, if 
he were to conclude peace without being too obstinate over the 
conditions, he should be elevated to the rank of the late King of 
Navarre, his brother, 1 and might do, from that time, all that he 
wished for those of the Religion." 

Conde was ambitious ; he was far from unsusceptible to 
flattery, and he ardently desired to recover his freedom. He 
looked at the subtle diplomatist who was speaking him so fair, 
1 The post of LieutenantGeneral of the Kingdom. 




and forced himself to believe that she was sincere in her protes- 
tations. He looked at Damville and his guards, and thought 
with a shudder of the gloomy fortress which he had lately left, 
and to which it would probably be his fate to return, if the 
negotiations were broken off. And then his glance wandered to 
the maids-of-honour, standing just out of earshot, and rested on 
.Isabelle de Limeuil ; and he felt his heart beat a trifle faster, as 
he noted her charming face and the graceful lines of her figure. 
Did she not represent all the pleasures of the Court from which 
he had been so long separated, but which it was now in his 
power to enjoy again ? 

The prince was already won over, already prepared to 
accept important modifications of the "Edict of January," 
when, that same evening, with the consent of the Queen, he 
entered Orleans to confer with the council of the Protestant 
Association. He found the council divided into two sharply 
defined parties ; on the one side were all the ministers, to the 
number of seventy-two, with Theodore de Beze at their head ; 
on the other, the great majority of the Huguenot gentlemen. 

" The men of war demanded only peace ; the ministers of 
the Holy Gospel called for the continuance of the war, at least 
until the " Edict of January " was re-established in its entirety, 
and invited the prince to require the King to mete out rigorous 
punishment to all ' atheists, freethinkers, Anabaptists, Servetists, 
and other heretics and schismatics.' Barely escaped from the 
stake themselves, they demanded the right to drag other 
victims to it." l 

With ill-concealed impatience, Conde listened to the 
demands of these intractable theologians ; then, turning from 
them, he invited his old companions-in-arms to express their 
opinion. With one voice these gentlemen, who were heartily 
weary of the war and asked only to be allowed to return to 
their homes, declared themselves willing to accept peace on the 
conditions which the Court was prepared to offer. Strong in 
their support, the prince felt that he could afford to defy the 
ministers and the democratic section of the party ; and when, 

1 Henri Martin, " Histoire de France jusqu'en 1789." 


on March 23, Coligny, fresh from his victorious campaign in 
Normandy, arrived at Orleans to take part in the negotiations, 
he found that he was too late. The Edict, or Peace, of Amboise 
had been promulgated in that town on the ipth, and published 
in the royal camp on the 22nd. 

The Admiral was deeply mortified at Conde's surrender, in 
which he suspected that personal considerations had counted 
for not a little, and declared, with pardonable exaggeration, 
that " by a stroke of the pen more churches had been ruined 
than the enemy could have razed in ten years." As for the 
Huguenot ministers, they were exasperated to the last degree 
against the prince, stigmatized the treaty as "that of a man 
who had left half his manhood in captivity," and accused him 
of having yielded to the seductions of Catherine's Court, and of 
having halenl her maids-of -honour. 1 

Somewhat conscience-stricken, Conde joined the Admiral 
in a belated attempt to get the articles modified in a Protestant 
sense, but, though Catherine agreed to some concessions, she 
firmly refused to allow them to be inserted in the edict. On 
April i she made her entry into Orleans, having the Cardinal 
de Bourbon on her right hand, and Conde on her left. A few 
days later, Coligny set out for Chatillon, to seek in the bosom 
of his family the repose which he had so well earned. Conde 
would have done well to follow his example. Unfortunately, 
he preferred to follow the Court to Amboise. 

1 D'Aubigne, " Histoire Universelle." 


Catherine de' Medici and \ivc" escadron -volant" Adroitness with which 
the Queen employs the charms of her maids-of-honour to seduce the Huguenot 
chiefs The King of Navarre and la belle Rouet Policy of Catherine after 
the Peace of Amboise She determines to compromise Condd with his foreign 
allies and the French Protestants, by encouraging his taste for sensual 
pleasures And selects for his subjugation her maid-of-honour and kins- 
woman Isabelle de Limeuil Description of this siren Her admirers 
Her mercenary character Beginning of her liaison with the prince Conde* 
and Elizabeth of England Mile, de Limeuil, inspired by Catherine, seeks 
to persuade Conde' to break with Elizabeth Mission of d'Alluye to England 
Conde* is induced to take up arms against his late allies Siege and 
surrender of Le Havre. 

THE life of the Court, which naturally possessed a great 
attraction for a man of Cond6's temperament, was full 
of snares and pitfalls. It was not for the mere 
pleasure of beholding their pretty faces that Catherine recruited 
her entourage from the most beautiful young girls in France. 
During the lifetime of her husband, in the days before she had 
been called upon to play a political role, Catherine had been 
the most austere of queens, guarding the reputation of her 
ladies as jealously as she did her own, and visiting with her 
severe displeasure the slightest breach of decorum on their part. 
But when she found herself a widow, struggling in an endless 
web of plot and falsehood to protect her children's heritage ; 
beset on one side by the Catholics, on the other, by the Hugue- 
nots ; often driven to her wits' end to devise means to prevent 
the royal authority being submerged amid the strife of contend- 
ing parties, her austerity gave way before political exigencies, 
and, recognizing how formidable a weapon she possessed in the 
charms of her "escadron volant? she exploited them without 
scruple. " These maids-of-honour," writes Brantdme, " were 


sufficient to set fire to the whole world ; indeed, they burned up 
a good part of it, as many of us gentlemen of the Court as of 
others who approached their flames." 

Catherine received not a few remonstrances concerning the 
havoc wrought by the beaux yeux si these damsels. " You ought, 
Madame," runs one of them, " to content yourself with a small 
train of maids-of-honour, and to look to it that they do not pass 
and repass through the hands of men, and that they are more 
modestly clothed." But Catherine's squadron had demonstrated 
its peculiar value on too many occasions for her to dream of 
disbanding it, or even of placing it on a peace-footing ; and so 
its members continued to illuminate the Court ball-rooms, " like 
stars shining in a serene heaven." l For the rest, her Majesty 
pretended to ignore the vices of her filles d'honneur, the better to 
make use of them when occasion for their services arose. No 
one could have shown more adroitness in throwing some isolated 
and often unconscious combatant in the path of the politicians 
and party-leaders whom she had reason to fear, to captivate 
their senses and surprise their secrets. It was against the 
Huguenot chiefs that this insidious mode of warfare was most 
frequently employed. "However austere they may wish to 
appear, these men are of their time, and share the weaknesses 
of their contemporaries. Women had, in many cases, launched 
them into adventures, women will check them in full career. 
Those who succeed without provoking scandal are highly 
praised and rewarded ; the maladroit will be the less supported 
in their difficulties in that they are never able to invoke the 
excuse of a definite mission." 2 

Knowing what we do of Catherine's little ways, it is not 
difficult to imagine the tactics adopted. The destined victim, 
on some pretext or other, is lured to the Court. He comes, not 
ill-pleased to be afforded an opportunity of airing his grievances 
in the royal presence, but very resolved not to allow the Queen 
to penetrate the secrets of his party or to obtain from him the 
least concession. He is very coldly received, informed that his 
demands are unreasonable, and that the Queen fears that it 

1 Brantome. 8 M. Henri Bouchot, " les Femmes de Brandfime." 


will be impossible to accede to them. However, she has not 
the leisure to go further into the matter at that moment ; let 
him return at the same hour on the following day, when she will 
hope to find him less exigent. And the audience is at end 
almost as soon as it has begun. 

Somewhat piqued at the abruptness of his dismissal, he takes 
his departure, without the faintest suspicion that the most 
accomplished actress of the sixteenth century has been playing 
one of her many parts. Passing through the ante-chamber, he 
perceives, apparently awaiting her royal mistress's summons, a 
demure damsel of disturbing beauty it is always the freshest 
and most innocent-looking of the squadron who is detailed for 
this kind of service who modestly lowers her eyes as they 
meet his, but not before he has had time to remark that they 
are in keeping with her other perfections. Our Huguenot, who, 
though he yawns through a long sermon each Sunday and 
conducts family worship every day of the week, that is to say, 
when he does not happen to be engaged in burning his Catholic 
neighbours' chateaux over their heads, is none the less a courtier 
of beauty, finds himself wondering who the lady can be, and 
goes on his way not without a lingering hope that he may see 
her again. 

On the morrow, he returns. This time, he is informed that 
the Queen is giving audience to one of the foreign ambassadors, 
and that he will have to wait for a few minutes. A quarter of 
an hour passes, and he is beginning to grow impatient, when the 
damsel whom he has seen on the previous day enters and 
advances to the door of the Queen's cabinet, with something 
for her royal mistress in her hand. Here, however, she is 
stopped by the usher; Mademoiselle cannot be allowed to 
enter ; her Majesty has given orders that she is on no account 
to be disturbed. And she, too, must wait. In the circumstances, 
Monsieur, who is, of course, a great noble, and may therefore be 
permitted what in others might be considered a liberty, ventures 
to address her. She answers with a modesty which charms 
him, and they converse very agreeably until presently he is 
summoned to the royal presence. 


Here, some further pretext is invented for detaining him 
some days longer at the Court, but he resigns himself to the 
delay with a good grace, for those few minutes' conversation in 
the ante-chamber have not been barren of result. A few hours 
later, he receives a courteous note from Catherine, greatly 
regretting the inconvenience to which he is being subjected and 
inviting him to a ball which she is giving the following evening. 
" The Religion " looks with scant favour on such worldly 
pleasures, but he tells himself that it would be churlish, perhaps 
impolitic, to refuse. Naturally, he meets Mademoiselle, arrayed 
in a ravishing toilette very probably a present from the Queen 
and looking more alluring than ever. He requests to be 
presented to her ; they dance together, and he finds her as 
charming as she is beautiful. Opportunities for further meetings 
will not be wanting, for by this time the girl has received her 
instructions from headquarters ; and soon there will be no 
further need for Catherine to devise pretexts for keeping the 
gentleman at Court. 

When our Huguenot's partisans learn what is going on, 
they will write letter upon letter, warning him that an ambush is 
being laid for him, and reproaching him with bringing discredit 
upon the Faith. But he is now fairly in the toils, and their 
warnings and reproaches will serve no purpose save to irritate 
him against them and loosen the ties which bind him to them. 
Perhaps, lured by the blandishments of his inamorata and 
incensed by the suspicions of his party, he will end by abandon- 
ing it altogether ; at the least, a breach will be created between 
them which will not be easy to heal, and some very useful 
information, which has escaped his lips in unguarded moments, 
will find its way into Catherine's cabinet. 

It was thus that Conde's elder brother, Antoine de Bourbon, 
King of Navarre, had met Louise de la Beraudiere, 1 Demoiselle 
de Rouet la belle Rouet, as the Court called her in whom 
he found so refreshing a contrast to his sharp-featured and 
austere consort that he permitted her to lead him whither she, 

1 She was the daughter of Louis de la Beraudiere, Sieur del' lie Rouet, in 


or rather Catherine, willed. 1 She was the cause of his death. 
Wounded at the siege of Rouen and scarcely convalescent, he 
called her to him, and " behaved as though he considered that 
kings were immortal," with the result that might be expected. 

" Cy-gist le corps au vers en proye 
Du roy qni mourut pour la Roye [Rouet]. 
Cy-gist qui quitta Jesus-Christ 
Pour un royaum par escript, 2 
Et sa femme tres vertueuse 
Pour une puante morveuse." 

So ran a Huguenot epitaph on the ill-fated Antoine. But 
her connexion with the King of Navarre did not prevent la belle 
Rouet from making an advantageous marriage with Robert de 
Gombault, Sieur d'Arcis-sur-1'Aube, maitre d'hdtel to Charles 
IX., whom she presented with two daughters. 

The events of the civil war had profoundly altered Catherine's 
views in regard to the two parties which divided the kingdom. 
At the opening of hostilities, she had believed that the 
Huguenots possessed the better chance of success, and, though 
constrained to lend her name to the Catholic leaders, she was 
careful not to allow herself to be identified too closely with their 
objects. But, as time went on, it became evident that, although 
the Huguenots were undoubtedly formidable, they were very 
inferior in numbers, and that the mass of the people were 
faithful to the Old Religion. She was compelled, therefore, to 
recognize that she had been mistaken, and that it would be very 
inadvisable for her to alienate the Catholic party. On the other 
hand, it would be easy to seize the direction of that party, for 
the King of Navarre and Francois de Guise were dead, the sons 
of Guise 'mere boys, the Cardinal de Bourbon absolutely in- 
capable, the Montmorencies divided among themselves, and the 
Cardinal de Lorraine, deprived of the support of his brother, as 
humble as he had once been arrogant. She, therefore, decided 

1 By the King of Navarre she had had a son, Charles de Bourbon, who became 
Archbishop of Rouen. 

* " Un royaume par escript," means the illusory kingdom in the South promised 
Antoine by Philip II. of Spain. 


to place herself and her son at the head of the Catholics and to 
re-establish unity in the kingdom by the ruin of Protestantism. 
But she had no intention of resorting to force ; " she wished to 
undermine the ramparts of Calvinism, not to carry them by 
assault;" 1 to take back little by little, by restrictive interpretations 
of the Edict of Amboise, the concessions granted the Reformers ; 
to disarm and dissolve their religious and military associations ; 
and to dishearten them by withholding the protection of the 
Law and assuring impunity to the violence of the Catholics. 
But, aware that her task would be immensely facilitated if she 
could begin by depriving them of their protectors in high places, 
she was determined to leave no means untried to seduce or 
discredit the Huguenot chiefs, and particularly Conde* the first 
Prince of the Blood, the link between the noble and democratic 
sections of the party, the man whom she half-suspected of 
aspiring to the throne. 

From the time of the Peace of Amboise, it was easy for 
Catherine to perceive that Conde, who had just consented to 
such important modifications of the " Edict of January," was 
unlikely henceforth to show himself a very zealous champion of 
Protestantism, and that a considerable section of the Huguenots 
was disposed to question the seriousness of his conversion and 
the sincerity of his devotion to their cause. She knew, too, 
that if, on the one hand, Conde aspired, as a Prince of the 
Blood, to play a prominent part in affairs of State, and was 
ambitious to secure the title of Lieutenant-General of the 
Kingdom, he would be, as a man, eager to compensate himself 
for the ennui of his recent captivity by a round of pleasure and 

At first, Catherine's attitude towards Cond6 was everything 
that he could possibly desire ; sfre overwhelmed him with atten- 
tions ; consulted him constantly on public affairs, and showed 
for his opinion a deference which delighted him. But all this 
was merely intended to put him off his guard and foster the 
pleasing illusions which he had entertained since the conference 
on the Ile-aux-Bceufs. For, so far from having any intention 

1 Henri Martin, "Histoire de France jusqu'en 1789." 


of sharing the direction of affairs with the prince, she had deter- 
mined to detach him from his alliances with the foreign Protes- 
tants, compromise him with his own party, and reduce him to 
political impotence. And, to accomplish this she proposed to 
deal with him as she had dealt with his unfortunate brother, 
the King of Navarre, by encouraging his taste for those sensual 
pleasures which the most dissolute Court in Europe offered so 
many opportunities of gratifying. 

To dominate Conde, Catherine had in reserve an auxiliary 
not less redoubtable than la belle Rouet. It was Isabelle de 
Limeuil, one of the two maids-of-honour whom she had brought 
to the Ile-aux-Boeufs, and who had already made a very 
favourable impression upon the inflammable prince. 

Isabelle was a member of a branch of the House of La 
Tour d'Auvergne, to which Madeleine de la Tour, the mother 
of Catherine de' Medici, had belonged, and was therefore a 
kinswoman of the Queen-Mother. 1 She was a blond, with 
beautiful blue eyes and a dazzling complexion, in figure some- 
what thin, but exquisitely formed. She had been well-educated, 
was extremely intelligent and possessed of a mordant wit, 
which she used freely at the expense of those admirers who did 
not suit her fancy, not sparing even the most exalted personages. 
Brantdme relates how, one day during the siege of Rouen, she 
rebuffed the old Connetable de Montmorency, whose bitter 
tongue was dreaded by all the Court. The Constable, who, in 
spite of his age and gravity, did not disdain an occasional 
amourette, attempted to make love to her and addressed her, in 
anticipation, as " his mistress." She replied tartly that, if he 
supposed he would ever have the right to address her thus, he 
was greatly mistaken, and promptly turned her back on him. 
Little accustomed to such a rebuff, the old gentleman took his 
departure, decidedly crestfallen. " My mistress," said he, " I 
leave you ; you snub me cruelly." " Which is quite fitting," 
she retorted, " since you are accustomed to snub everybody else." 

1 Isabella's father, Gilles de la Tour, Sieur de Limeuil, was the second son of 
Antoine de la Tour, Vicomte de Turenne. From Gilles's elder brother, Francois, 
sprang, in the fifth generation, the celebrated Marechal de Turenne. 


Her soupirants were legion, and included the Due d'Aumale ; 
Florimond Robertet, Sieur du Fresne, one of his Majesty's 
Secretaries of State; 1 Charles de la Marck, Comte de Mau- 
levrier ; Claude de la Chatre, afterwards marshal de France ; 
Brantome and Ronsard, one of whose most charming chansons 
she inspired : 

" Quand cc beau printemps je voy 5 


Rajeunir la terre et 1'onde, 
Et me semble que le jour 

Et 1'amour 
Comme enfans naissent au monde. 

Quand le soleil tout riant 


Nous monstre sa blonde tresse, 
II me semble que je voy 

Devant moy 
Lever ma belle maistresse. 

Quand je sens, parmi les prez 


Les fleurs dont la terre est pleine, 
Lors je fais croire a mes sens 

Que je sens 
La douceur de son haleine. 

Je voudrois, aa bruit de 1'eau 

D'un ruisseau, 
Desplier ses tresses blondes, 
Frizant en autant de nreus 

Ses cheveux 
Que je verrois frizer d'ondes. 

Je voudrois, pour la tenir, 


Dieu des ces forests desertes 
La baisant autant de fois 

Qu'en un bois 
II y a de feuilles vertes." 

With the exception of Du Fresne, who passed for her 
amant de cceur, it is doubtful if any of the gentlemen we have 
named ever saw his hopes materialize, for the fair Isabelle was 

1 He must not be confused with his cousin, Florimond Robertet, Sieur d'Alluye, 
who was also a Secretary of State. 


exceedingly fastidious. Moreover, she appears to have been 
one of those sirens who have a nice appreciation of the com- 
mercial value of their charms, and who not only set an exalted 
price upon their favours, but do not scruple to discount it in 
advance and subsequently decline to meet their obligations. 
" Monseigneur," writes she to the Due d'Aumale, in a letter 
appealing to his benevolence, " if you have not discovered how 
much I desired to do the thing which was agreeable to you, it 
was not because you had not the means, but the will." l 

Isabelle lent herself the more readily to Catherine's plans, 
since the mission confided to her was one in which her inclina- 
tion happened to harmonize with her interests. For she seems 
to have been attracted from the first by this good-humoured 
little man, with his pleasant face and his laughing eyes, who 
danced so gracefully, paid such pretty compliments to the 
ladies, and, notwithstanding his lack of inches, could hold his own 
in manly exercises with any gentleman at the Court. And, 
besides, he was a Prince of the Blood and one of the bravest 
captains in France ; and his narrow escape from the scaffold 
three years before, his exploits in the field, and his recent 
captivity, all of which naturally made a powerful appeal to 
ladies of a romantic disposition, had greatly enhanced the 
favour with which he had always been regarded by the opposite 
sex, many of whom would have been only too willing to accept 
him as a " serviteur" 

As for Conde, flattered by the preference of a young beauty 
for whom some of the most fascinating gallants of the Court 
had sighed in vain, he never paused to consider how far this 
bonne fortune was due to his own attractions, but plunged into 
it with the same impetuosity with which on the battlefield he 
threw himself into the thick of the enemy's squadrons. He 
promised himself merely an agreeable adventure ; he found one 
of those entanglements from which it is a difficult matter to 

Isabelle de Limeuil was very soon afforded an opportunity 

1 La Ferri&re, "Trois amourcuses au xvi* si&cle." 


of putting the devotion which her royal admirer professed for 
her to the test. 

Coligny and the Huguenot stalwarts had not been the only 
allies whom Conde had offended in accepting the conditions 
imposed by the Court in the Peace of Amboise. It will be 
remembered that an article in the Treaty of Hampton Court 
had stipulated that the English were to retain possession of 
Le Havre and Dieppe) until Calais had been restored to them. 
Now, Conde had never officially ratified the engagements that 
the Vidame de Chartres had undertaken in his name ; indeed, 
he pretended to be unaware of their full import ; and had he 
ever been so desirous of it, it would have been impossible for 
him to have made the immediate restoration of Calais, or the 
continued retention of Le Havre by the English as a lien upon 
that town, a condition of peace. As an English historian very 
justly remarks, such a proposal would have "enlisted the pride 
of France against himself and his cause and have identified 
religious freedom with national degradation." 1 When, there- 
fore, on his return to Orleans after the conference on the Ile- 
aux-Bceufs, he wrote to inform Elizabeth of what was taking 
place, he said not a word about Calais, but boldly assumed that 
her Majesty's motives in coming to the assistance of the 
Huguenots had been entirely disinterested, and that, since 
liberty of conscience was on the point of being secured, there 
was no longer any occasion for continuing the war. "Now, 
Madame," he wrote, "you will let it be known that none other 
reason than simply your zeal for the protection of the faithful 
who desire the preaching of the pure Gospel induced you to 
favour our cause." 2 

Elizabeth, however, cared very little for the protection of 
the faithful in comparison with Calais, and she wrote the prince 
a very angry letter, in which she called upon him to fulfil his 
promise and bade him beware "how he set an example of 
perfidy to the world." Her remonstrances, however, produced 

1 J. A. Froude, " History of England," vol. vii. 

* Conde to Elizabeth, 8 March, 1563, in the Due d'Aumale, " Histoire des 
Princes de Conde." 


no effect, and immediately after the signing of the Peace, in 
accordance with an article which stipulated that the foreign 
auxiliaries on both sides should be sent home, the Earl of 
Warwick received notice that he was expected to withdraw from 
Le Havre. 

This, however, Elizabeth firmly declined to allow him to do. 
In vain, Cond6 wrote, offering her, in the name of himself, the 
Regent, and the entire nobility of France, to renew formally 
and solemnly the clause in the Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis for 
the restoration of Calais in 1567, to repay the money which she 
had advanced the Huguenots, and to remove all restrictions 
upon English trade with France. In vain, he despatched 
envoys to explain his position and to reason with her. In vain, 
the young King wrote himself, offering the ratification of the 
treaty, with " hostages at her choice " for itsifulfilment from the 
noblest families in France. Bitterly mortified at having been 
outwitted in a transaction from which she had intended to reap 
all the advantage, she would listen to no terms. The Prince de 
Conde, she declared, was "a treacherous, inconstant, perjured 
villain," with whom she desired to have no dealings ; she 
required Calais delivered over to her and her money paid down, 
and until she had obtained both, Le Havre should remain in her 

Catherine de' Medici had viewed with complacency the ob- 
stinacy of the English Queen. Although the reduction of Le 
Havre, a place which could easily be revictualled from the sea 
and which had been furnished during the English occupation 
with new defences, might prove a formidable undertaking, she 
had no doubt of success ; and she preferred (recovering it by 
conquest to seeing it amicably restored, since she would then 
be at liberty to retain Calais. Moreover, if Conde could be 
brought to turn against Elizabeth the army which her own 
money had assisted him to raise, and to take part in the war in 
person, an irremediable breach would be created between them, 
and she would have nothing more to fear from English inter- 

Inspired by Catherine, Isabelle de Limeuil employed all her 


persuasions to induce the prince to break with England ; but, 
great as was the empire which she already exercised over Conde, 
and deeply incensed as the latter was by the tone of Elizabeth's 
letters, and still more by the contemptuous manner in which she 
had spoken of him, he still remained undecided. There was no 
blinking the fact that, however great the difference between her 
promises and her performances, and however selfish her motives, 
the Queen had rendered the Huguenots material assistance in 
the late war ; and Coligny and Andelot had so well recognized 
this that, while warmly approving of the refusal to surrender 
Calais, they had declined to bear arms against her. Conde was 
unwilling to show himself less scrupulous than they ; and, besides, 
he had, while at Orleans, solemnly assured the English envoy that 
" his sword should never cut against the Queen's Majesty." l 

He, therefore, urged Catherine to make a final endeavour to 
effect a peaceful settlement. Very reluctantly, she consented, 
and, towards the end of May, the Sieur d'Alluye was despatched 
to London with fresh propositions. D'Alluye was a young man 
of thirty, ignorant, conceited, and presumptuous ; in fact, if it 
had been Catherine's intention which it probably was to 
wound the pride of Elizabeth and provoke a new and humiliat- 
ing refusal, she could not have made a better choice. Conde 
having requested that his confidant La Haye should be joined 
to d'Alluye, the Regent readily consented, well aware that a 
refusal transmitted through him would only have the more 
weight. Everything fell out precisely as might have been fore- 
seen. After several acrimonious conferences with the English 
Ministers, in which d'Alluye "showed nothing but pride and 
ignorance," 3 that gentleman haughtily informed the Queen, 
that " he had no commission to treat of Calais ; his charge was 
only to demand Newhaven [Le Havre]." 8 Elizabeth lost her 
temper, and, red with anger, replied that, in occupying Le Havre, 
she had had no other purpose than to avenge the honour of 
England, which had been compromised by the loss of Calais. 

This frank avowal stung the national pride of the French to 

1 Middlemore to Cecil, 30 March, 1563. 
2 Cecil to Smith, 4 June, 1563. * Ibid. 


the quick ; from the Channel to the Pyrenees the universal cry 
was " Vive la France" and Catholics and Huguenots, moved by 
a common impulse, pressed into the army which was being 
mobilized to wrest Le Havre from the grip of the English. 
Catherine adroitly seized the occasion to renew, through 
Isabelle de Limeuil, her importunities ; the last scruples of 
Conde were overcome, and on 19 June the English envoy 
Middlemore, who, on the pretext of facilitating communications 
between Conde and Elizabeth, had been charged by the latter 
to attend the prince everywhere, writes to Cecil : " The incon- 
stancy and miserableness of this Prince of Cond6 is so great, 
having both forgotten God and his own honour, as that he hath 
suffered himself to be won by the Q.[ueen] mother to go 
against her Majesty at Newhaven [Le Havre], and for the 
present is the person that, above all others, doth most solicit 
them of the Religion to serve in these wars against her Majesty." 
And he adds that the prince, " specially desiring now to have 
every man to show himself as wicked as he, hath sent for the 
Admiral and M. Andelot, his brother, to come to the Court out 
of hand, where, being once arrived, they think to prevail with 
them as to win them to like and take in hand the said enter- 
prise." Isabelle de Limeuil had served Catherine well. 

A few days later, Conde* having courteously desired Middle- 
more, who continued to stick to him like a burr, "to retire himself," 
joined the army before Le Havre, where operations had already 
begun. The garrison had promised Elizabeth that "the Lord 
Warwick and all his people would spend the last drop of their 
blood before the French should fasten a foot in the town " ; 
but, unhappily, they had an enemy to contend with within the 
walls infinitely more formidable than the one without an 
enemy whom no skill could outwit and no courage repel. In 
the first days of June, the plague broke out among them, 
and, pent up in the narrow, fetid streets, the soldiers died like 
flies. By the end of the month, out of seven thousand men 
who had formed the original garrison, but three thousand were 
fit for duty ; and by 1 1 July only fifteen hundred were left. 

1 J. A. Froude, "History of England." 


Reinforcements were hurried across the Channel, only to 
sicken and die in their turn ; a south-westerly gale drove the 
English ships from the coast, and the French succeeded in 
closing the harbour, so that soon famine was added to 

Elizabeth, alarmed by the disastrous news from Le Havre, 
began to repent of her obstinacy, and offered to accept the 
terms which she had so indignantly rejected. But it was now 
too late ; the French, well aware of the condition of the 
garrison, refused to reopen the negotiations, and on 27 July, 
just as the besiegers, who had already made two breaches in 
the defences, were preparing for a general attack, Warwick, 
who, the previous evening, had received permission from the 
Queen to surrender at the last extremity, offered to capitulate. 
Terms were soon arranged, and on the 29th the town was 
restored to France, and the remnant of its brave defenders 
sailed for England, carrying with them the plague, which they 
spread far and wide through the land. 

After long negotiations, peace was finally concluded at 
Troyes,'in April 1564. Elizabeth lost all her rights over Calais, 
and had to content herself with a sum of 120,000 crowns, as 
the price of the freedom of the French hostages. Although she 
on more than one occasion pressed Conde and Coligny for the 
repayment of the money she had advanced the Huguenots, 
she does not appear to have succeeded in recovering any part 
of it 


Cond is disappointed in his hopes of obtaining the post of Lieutenant- 
General of the Kingdom The prince incurs the hatred of the extreme 
Catholics Plot to assassinate him on the Feast of Corpus Christi Suspicion 
with which he is regarded by the zealots of his own party Condd, deceived 
in his ambition and mortified by the hostility of the extremists on both 
sides, turns to pleasure for consolation Violent passion of the Mardchale 
de Saint-Andre" for him Indignation and alarm aroused at Geneva by the 
rumours of Condd's amorous adventures Calvin and Beze address a joint 
letter of remonstrance to the prince Condd at Muret Death of two of 
his children Failing health of the Princesse de Condd Her touching 
devotion to her husband Her dignified attitude in regard to his infidelities 
Return of Conde to the Court Quarrel between him and Isabella de 
Limeuil Temporary triumph of the Mardchale de Saint-Andre" Refusal of 
the King to sanction the betrothal of the Marquis de Conti to Mile, de Saint- 
Andre' Cond^ quits the Court in anger, but is reconciled to Isabella and 
returns A second honeymoon. 

AFTER having broken definitely with his former allies, 
and even borne arms against them in person, Conde 
looked to receive from the hands of the Queen-Mother 
the post of Lieutenant-General of the Kingdom, which Catherine 
appears to have given him to understand would be the reward 
of his compliance with her wishes. But her Majesty, though 
she complimented him warmly on the courage he had displayed 
during the siege, had not the smallest intention of sharing with 
the prince the power of which she was so jealous ; and, by causing 
the Parlement of Rouen to proclaim the majority of Charles 
IX., who had just entered his fourteenth year, she adroitly 
contrived to reduce to nothing all pretension on his part to the 
coveted title and to retain the sovereign authority in her own 

The discovery that he had been the dupe of his ambition was 
not the only mortification which Conde" had to endure. If he were 
at bottom but a lukewarm adherent of the Reformed Faith, if 



in the negotiations which had preceded the Peace of Amboise 
he had been not unmindful of his own interests, he was none 
the less sincerely anxious that the rights guaranteed to the 
Protestants by that treaty should be observed ; and his 
persistence in defending them drew upon him the hatred of the 
extreme Catholics. So exasperated, indeed, were the fanatical 
Parisians against him that for some months his friends considered 
it unsafe for him to appear in the capital, even in the suite of 
the King, and on one occasion when he did venture there, he 
narrowly escaped being assassinated. 

In one of his despatches to Cecil, Middlemore gives the 
following account of the affair : 

" On the gth inst, the King went from Bois de Vincennes to 
Paris, as well to keep the people from sedition as to assist at the 
Feast of Corpus Christi, which was the next day. Conde (who 
had refused to go thither) was won to accompany him, and on 
the morrow brought him to Our Lady Church, 1 where he left him 
at the door, without entering. These ceremonies passed, the 
King, about 7 p.m., came back to bed to Bois de Vincennes, 
accompanied by his mother and the Prince. As they passed 
the town-gates, 2 they found 600 horsemen, well-armed and 
mounted, who were assembled to slay the Prince and all his, if 
they could have] taken him out of the presence of the King ; 
but perceiving the King, they divided themselves on both 
sides of the way, and suffered him to pass quietly, on whose 
right hand at that time the Prince was, and the Queen-Mother 
on his left. The Princess, his wife, coming in her coach a little 
after, was assailed by them, and would have been murdered had 
not the cochier bestirred himself; and such gentlemen as were 
about her cried to them that it was not the Princess of Conde, 
but the Queen's maids, which kept them from shooting their 
pistols at her, having them ready bent, until they overtook the 
King, in whose presence (when they saw that they had failed of 
the Prince and Princess) they killed a captain of the Prince 3 at 
the side of his wife's coach, and took five or six of his gentlemen 

1 Notre-Dame. y The Porte Saint-Antoine. 

3 The name of the unfortunate gentleman was Couppe. 


prisoners, and retired. This outrage is greatly stomached by 
the Prince, who has since been assured that some of the 
House of Guise did ' dress ' him this party ; and therefore he 
told the Queen, before the whole Council, that he will not tarry 
in the Court unless the whole House of Guise retire from thence ; 
and so has desired her to consider which of them shall do the 
King better service, and that the others may be commanded 
forthwith to dislodge." l 

On the other hand, the zealots of Cond6's own party, who had 
so bitterly denounced the Peace, could not forgive his want of 
enthusiasm, nor the very plain language in which he rebuked 
their insulting behaviour towards the Catholics in those districts 
in which the latter happened to be in a minority. They accused 
him of " swimming betwixt two waters," " of playing the Machia- 
velli," and of seeking to use both parties for his own ends. 2 " In 
their eyes," observes the Due d'Aumale, "his desire for the 
maintenance of peace was nothing but the indifference of gratified 
ambition, or the forgetfulness of duty amidst the intoxication of 
pleasure." 3 

1 Middlemore to Cecil, 17 June, 1563, State Papers (Elizabeth), Foreign Series. 
The dtnotiment of this affair is a singular illustration of the impotence or unwilling- 
ness of the Law to punish crimes committed against the Protestants by the ferocious 
rabble of the capital. 

On the day following the outrage, the King sent for the Provost of the Merchants 
and ordered him to bring the murderers to justice, under pain of answering for them 
himself, adding that "if any more of such insolences were done in Paris, he would 
send the four marshals of France there to see better order kept." The provost, 
trembling in his shoes, returned home, and, next day, the authorities caused one 
Gamier, a captain of the city militia, and another person to be arrested, on suspicion 
of being concerned in the crime. Whereupon " the rest of the captains and lieutenants 
of Paris gathered themselves together to 4000 or 5000, and made such ado that they 
were glad to let them go." No further attempt to execute justice was made, nor could 
the authorities even secure decent burial for the murdered gentleman. By a decree of 
the Chatelet, the body was ordered to be interred in the cemetery of the Innocents, 
together with that of an unknown Huguenot, " whom also on the Thursday, in the 
worship of that holy day, the Parisians had sacrificed and, after their manner, thrown 
into the water (the Seine). But certain women and boys (for they are now the judges 
and executioners of Paris) digged them up again ; which being known, to avoid danger 
they were buried there again by the watch, and were again unburied, and no man 
knows what is done with them." "Journal of Sir Thomas Smith," State Papers 
(Elizabeth), Foreign Series. 

* Smith to Cecil, 22 May, 1563. * " Histoire des Princes de Conde." 


If Conde's efforts on behalf of his co-religionists should have 
sheltered him from such accusations, his private life, it must be 
admitted, was very far from being in accordance with the austere 
religion which he professed, and was calculated to arouse grave 
apprehensions among the Protestants. Deceived in his ambition, 
mortified by the hostility which his well-intentioned efforts had 
been received by the extremists of both parties, he had turned to 
pleasure for consolation and surrendered himself unreservedly to 
all the temptations of that gay and dissolute Court. His days 
were passed in the hunting-field, the tennis-court, and the tilt- 
yard ; his nights at the ball, the play, or the card-table, and often 
in more questionable amusements. Grave Huguenots who came 
to lay their grievances before him were indignant to find the 
chief of their party, who should have been occupying himself 
with the interests of religion and setting an example of godly 
living to those about him, mingling in all the profane diversions 
of the Court, as though he had not a care in the world, and in- 
expressibly shocked to learn that he was forgetting his devoted 
wife in the embraces of " Midianitish women." 

For Isabelle de Limeuil, if she occupied the premier place in 
Condi's affections, could not claim a monopoly of them. His 
Highness, in point of fact, disdained few bonnes fortunes, and the 
complaisant beauties of Catherine's Court were generally ready 
to meet the advances of the first Prince of the Blood a good deal 
more than halfway. 

Among those who entered the lists against Isabelle, the most 
redoubtable was Marguerite de Lustrac, the widow of the 
unfortunate Marechal de Saint-Andre, so foully slain at Dreux. 
Although no longer in her first youth, Madame la Marcchale 
was still one of the most beautiful and fascinating women at 
the Court " la Marguerite de douceur" J a contemporary 
writer calls her. She was also extremely wealthy and gave 
herself the airs of a queen, being always attended by an 
immense retinue, which included cadets of the noblest families 
in France. 

Feeling the need of consolation in her bereavement, the lady 

1 Fran9ois Billon, " le Fort inexpugnable de 1'honneur feminin." Paris, 1555. 


cast a favourable eye in the direction of Conde, and, piqued by 
his indifference he was just then in the middle of his honey- 
moon with Isabelle soon conceived for him the most violent 
passion. Since sighs and languishing glances did not suffice to 
bring him to her side, she resolved to have recourse to other 
means. By the Marechal de Saint-Andre she had had a 
daughter, who was one of the greatest heiresses in France. This 
daughter had for some time past been destined for the young 
Henri de Lorraine, who, by the tragic death of his father, had 
now become Due de Guise, and she had even been confided to 
the care of the widowed duchess. But the mardchale, having 
decided that the surest means of subjugating Conde was to 
appeal to his interests, suddenly demanded that her daughter 
should be sent back to her, repudiated her engagements with 
the Guises, and offered the girl to the prince, for his eldest son, 
Henri, Marquis de Conti, now twelve years old. 

The prospect of an alliance which would not only bring 
great wealth into his family, but inflict a cruel humiliation on the 
hated Guises was naturally very favourably received by Conde, 
and the enamoured marechale did not fail to take full advantage 
of the frequent interviews between her and the object of her 
passion which the affair, of course, necessitated. Nevertheless, 
she did not succeed in weaning the Prince from Isabelle, and 
had to rest content with the few crumbs of affection which he 
condescended to bestow upon her. 

Rumours of his Highness's amorous adventures were not 
long in reaching Geneva, where they aroused both indignation 
and alarm. Had the delinquent been a less exalted personage, 
he would probably have been straightway excommunicated ; 
but Calvin and Beze, though exasperated by the carelessness 
with which he was compromising their common cause, knew very 
well that the first Prince of the Blood was an asset with which 
the party could not possibly dispense. They knew, too, that 
his amour-propre had already been deeply wounded by the 
reproaches that had been addressed to him at the time of the 
Peace of Amboise, and that it was necessary to spare his feelings 
as much as possible ; and, accordingly, contented themselves by 


addressing to him, in the name of their afflicted Church, a letter 
of remonstrance, couched in studiously moderate terms : 


We cannot forbear to beseech you not only to use 
your endeavours in the cause of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the 
advancement of the Gospel and for the security and repose of 
the poor faithful, but also to show in your whole life that you 
have profited by the doctrines of salvation, and to let your 
example be such as to edify the good and to close the mouths 
of all slanderers. For in proportion as you are conspicuous 
from afar in so exalted a position, ought you to be on your 
guard lest they should find any fault in you. You cannot 
doubt, Monseigneur, that we love your honour as we desire 
your salvation ; and we should be traitors were we to conceal 
from you the rumours that are in circulation concerning you. 
We do not suppose that there is any direct offence to God ; but 
when it is reported to us that you make love to ladies, your 
authority and reputation are seriously prejudiced. Good people 
will be scandalized thereby ; the evil-disposed will make it a 
subject of mockery. It involves a distraction which hinders 
and retards you from attending to your duty. There must 
even be some mundane vanity in it ; and it becomes you, above 
all else, to take heed lest the light which God has placed in you 
be quenched or grow dim. We trust, Monseigneur, that this 
warning will be taken in good part, when you reflect how much 
it is for your service. From Geneva, this thirteenth day of 
September 1563. 

Your very humble brethren, 

Cond6 received this letter at the Chateau of Muret, in 
Picardy, whither he had just arrived on a visit to his wife and 
family, accompanied by his brother-in-law, the Comte de la 
Rochefoucauld, 1 and his nephew, the Prince de Porcien. It 

1 La Rochefoucauld had married Catherine de Roye, younger sister of the 
Princesse de Conde. 


would not appear to have been altogether without effect, for, 
on 2 October, Conde's mother-in-law, the Comtesse de Roye, 
wrote to the Duke of Wiirtemberg : " The prince, my son-in- 
law, intends to devote himself more and more to everything 
which can further the reign of Jesus Christ." 1 

In the course of that same month, a domestic calamity 
came to add weight to the counsels of Calvin and Beze. 
Two of his younger children, Madeleine, aged three, and 
Louis, a child of eighteen months, fell ill and died within 
a few days of one another, to the inexpressible grief of the 
Princesse de Conde, who was one of the most devoted of 

The princess's relatives and friends, who probably regarded 
the death of the children as a direct judgment from Heaven 
upon the father's sins, did not fail to improve the occasion, and 
represented to Conde that it was his duty to withdraw, for some 
time at least, from the Court and remain with his bereaved 
wife. The poor lady, indeed, needed all the care and attention 
which were in his power to bestow, since she was a prey to 
bodily suffering as well as to anguish of mind. Always a 
delicate woman, the dangers and agitations of the past two 
years had tried her cruelly. In the spring of ,1562, when on 
her way from Meaux to Muret with her eldest boy and a small 
retinue, she had been attacked by a mob of fanatical peasants, 
who were marching in a Catholic procession, "without any 
cause, unless it were that they had been incited by a malignant 
priest, out of hatred for the Religion." 2 The litter in which the 
princess was being carried was smashed to pieces by volleys of 
stones, and she herself narrowly escaped serious injury. She 
was then in an advanced stage of pregnancy, and had barely 
time to reach the nearest village when she gave birth to twin 
sons. Nevertheless, as soon as she was able to leave her bed, 
she insisted on setting out for Orleans to join her husband, 
and, during the siege of that town in the following winter, she 

1 Comte Jules Delaborde, " I^leonore de Roye, Princesse de Conde." 

2 Beze. But other writers assert that the princess's attendants had provoked the 
attack by insulting the priests. 



remained there, amid all the horrors of war, pestilence, and 
famine, to encourage its defenders by her heroic example. 

Although her health had been profoundly affected by all 
that she had gone through during the civil war, the princess 
considered it her duty, so long as any physical strength 
remained to her, to reside at the Court with her husband, and 
to follow him in his journeys. Thus, when, in the early summer 
of 1563, Cond^ decided to take part in the expedition against 
Le Havre, she set out for Normandy, accompanied by her 
mother, the Comtesse de Roye. But, on reaching Gaillon, she 
was attacked by small-pox of so severe a type that, for some 
time, she was in grave danger. Scarcely was she convalescent, 
than Madame de Roye fell ill, in her turn ; and the princess, in 
attending to her mother, neglected her own health, which from 
that moment declined steadily. 

Although the dissolute life which Conde was leading had 
caused her the greatest grief, she had refrained from reproach- 
ing him. " For her," says her biographer, " the true remedy for 
the irregularities of the unfaithful husband and for the anguish 
of the outraged wife was to be found in earnest and continual 
prayer. She implored God to save the soul led astray, and 
strove, by patient efforts, discreetly directed, and loving 
instances, to bring back this soul into the path of duty, and to 
revive in it family affections." * She now joined her entreaties 
to those of her friends and relatives to persuade her husband to 
remain with her. But Conde's career of dissipation had stifled 
his better nature ; the impressions produced on his mind by the 
death of his children were soon effaced, and, oblivious of the 
duty which he owed his ailing wife, and of the many obligations 
under which she had placed him, in the first days of November, 
he quitted her abruptly and returned to the Court, which was 
now in residence at Fontainebleau. 

A most unwelcome piece of intelligence greeted him on his 
arrival. He was informed that, during his absence in Picardy, 
Mile, de Limeuil had shown herself so unworthy of the signal 
honour he had done her as to find consolation in the homage 

1 Comte Jules Delaborde, " 6leonore de Roye, Princesse de Conde." 


of M. du Fresne, a gentleman for whom she had shown a 
decided preference in the days before Conde appeared upon the 
scene. The prince, who entertained a very high opinion both 
of the lady and of his own powers of fascination, was at first 
incredulous ; but the evidence laid before him was sufficiently 
circumstantial to disturb his peace of mind very seriously. In 
consequence, the reunion to which he had looked forward with 
so much impatience was shorn of all its rapture, and, instead of 
smiles, endearing words, and embraces, there were reproaches, 
indignant denials, sarcastic rejoinders, tears, and sulks. 

The Marechale de Saint-Andre did not fail to profit by the 
indiscretions of her rival, and delivered so vigorous and well- 
timed an assault upon the prince's heart that she succeeded in 
temporarily establishing herself there, and " audaciously flaunted 
her conquest before the eyes of the whole Court." The 
marechale had now recovered her daughter from the Duchesse 
de Guise, though not without an appeal to the law courts, and 
the little girl was on the point of being formally betrothed to 
the Marquis de Conti, when the Queen-Mother, who had got 
wind of the project, and had no mind to see the House of 
Conde thus aggrandized, suddenly intervened and persuaded 
the King to inform the parents that he should refuse his 
sanction to the match. 

Conde could not contain his indignation. "The Prince de 
Conde" has left the Court in anger," runs a letter from Fontaine- 
bleau, "because they (Charles IX. and Catherine) would not 
give the daughter of the late Marechal de Saint-Andre* to his 
son. He believes that they intend to give her to Guise. The 
Constable has gone to fetch him back. Others have gone to 
fan the flame." l But it appears to have been Mile, de Limeuil, 
and not the Constable, who persuaded the prince to stomach the 
affront he had received and to return to the Court. Acting 
doubtless by Catherine's orders, the damsel addressed to him 
eloquent and persuasive letters, assuring him that he alone 
possessed her heart, and that the affair with M. du Fresne had 

1 Letter of Almerigo Bor Fadino to Pierre du Bois, merchant of Antwerp, 
13 November, 1563, State Papers (Elizabeth), Foreign Series. 


been no more than a harmless flirtation, which malicious persons 
of both sexes woman who envied her her happiness, and gallants 
who could not forgive her for having preferred the prince to them 
had magnified into an intrigue. As for the matter which 
had caused his departure from the Court, was it worth while to 
sacrifice his pleasures to his amour-propre ? The little Mile, de 
Saint-Andre was a sickly child, who would probably never live 
to a marriageable age. Let him return, and he would find his 
Isabelle impatiently awaiting him. 

Conde did return, forgetting for the nonce his grievances 
against Catherine and anxious only for a reconciliation with his 
mistress. The Mare"chale de Saint-Andre was compelled, to her 
intense mortification, to resign her conquest and retire temporarily 
from the field; and the prince and Isabelle embarked upon a 
second honeymoon, which was conducted with so little pretence 
at concealment that people were astonished that Catherine, who 
still insisted on the observance of some outward decorum at her 
Court, should permit such " goings on." Her Majesty, however, 
who was fully alive to the political advantages of a passion 
which was, so to speak, binding her adversary hand and foot, 
found it convenient to be a little blind. 

In the course of the month of November, Coligny and 
Andelot arrived at the Court, and, on learning of the manner 
in which Conde was parading his profligacy, expostulated with 
him in no measured terms. Their remonstrances, however, had 
very little effect, and it was not until the following February, 
when the Princesse de Conde paid a brief visit to Fontainebleau, 
that his Highness condescended to show some respect for les 


The fetes ot Fontainebleau Charles IX. and Catherine set out on a grand 
progress through the kingdom Dangerous illness of the Princesse de Conde* 
Her husband obliged to remain with her Scandalous dtnoilment of the 
amours of Conde' and Isabelle de Limeuil Indignation of the Queen- 
Mother Isabelle and the Prince de la Roche-sur-Yon The Comte de 
Maulevrier accuses Isabelle of having plotted to poison the piince She 
is arrested and conducted to the Franciscan convent at Auxonne Tender 
correspondence between her and Du Fresne Passionate letters of Conde" 
to his mistress Isabelle denies the charges against her Her letter to 
Catherine She is removed to Vienne Her despair Her pathetic letters 
to Conde" She is examined by the Bishops of Orleans and Limoges, and 
confronted by Maulevrier. 

THE Court was very gay that winter. At the beginning 
of the spring, Charles IX. and Catherine were to set 
out on a grand progress through the kingdom, which 
was expected to occupy the better part of two years ; and, before 
their departure, Catherine wished to revive the magnificent fetes 
of which Fontainebleau had been the theatre in the days of 
" le Roi chevalier? In the vast galleries where Primaticcio has 
immortalized the beauty of her rival Diane de Poitiers, she 
entertained the ttite of the nobility of France, Catholics and 
Protestants being invited without distinction. Hunting-parties, 
tilting-matches, mimic combats on foot and on horseback, balls, 
banquets and theatrical representations filled the days and 
nights ; the princes and great nobles vied with one another in 
the sumptuousness of the entertainments which they, in return, 
offered to their young Sovereign and his mother ; and a stranger 
who had been suddenly transported into the midst of all this 
gaiety and extravagant splendour would have found it difficult 
to believe that he was in a country where the ashes of a desolating 
civil war had scarcely had time to grow cold. 



One of the features of the fetes was a grand banquet, followed 
by a " ballet-comtdie" which Catherine gave at the Vacherie. 
Isabelle de Limeuil figured in it, in the character of Hebe, and 
" attired in a tunic of transparent gauze, which permitted one 
to catch a glimpse of limbs which the goddess might have 
envied," was the cynosure of all eyes. Conde was no doubt not 
a little flattered by the admiration which his lady-love was 
arousing, and it is to be hoped that the charms which she so 
freely displayed sufficed to preserve him from the manoeuvres 
of her fair colleagues in the Queen's service, who, we are told, 
were indefatigable in their efforts to detach him from her. At 
the Court of Charles IX., it was something even to be faithful 
in infidelity ! 

On 13 March, 1564, their Majesties quitted Fontainebleau, 
and set out on their progress through the realm. This journey 
had been long meditated by Catherine, who expected from it 
important results. In the first place, respect for the central 
authority had almost disappeared amid the anarchy of the civil 
war, and the Queen desired, by making the young King known 
to the nation, to re-establish the monarchical power in the 
interior. In the second, the crisis through which France had 
just passed had lowered the country immeasurably in the eyes 
of other States, and she flattered herself that, by means of 
interviews with foreign sovereigns on the frontiers, she might 
do much to restore the prestige of the French name. Moreover, 
by establishing a good understanding with them, and particularly 
with Philip II. of Spain, she hoped to free herself from the 
tutelage of the grandees of the kingdom. 

The cortige was a most imposing one, for Catherine wished 
to impress the people and the sovereigns whom she was to meet 
by the magnificence of the royal retinue. The whole of the 
Court followed the King princes, ministers, gentlemen, and 
ladies and there was a veritable cohort of pages and lackeys, 
wearing his Majesty's livery of blue, red, and white, all the 
pages being dressed in velvet. The military escort was a very 
large one, and comprised not only all the Household troops, but 
several companies of men-at-arms. The Constable marshalled 


the procession, and directed its movements as he would have 
done that of an army on the march. 1 

Champagne was first visited. The Court stopped for a few 
days at Sens, where the young King was given a magnificent 
reception, and then moved on to Troyes, which was reached on 
27 March. In this town, where the negotiations for peace with 
England were finally concluded, Conde " fell sick of the palsy 
or apoplexy, which took him at tennis, and a fever upon it," a 
and his condition appeared sufficiently grave for his wife, who 
was then at the Chateau of Conde-en-Brie, to be summoned to 
nurse him. The devoted woman, although suffering herself, lost 
not a moment in hastening to her faithless husband's side, and 
in lavishing upon him the tenderest care. Thanks in a great 
measure to her solicitude, the prince's health was soon re- 
established for his illness would appear to have been much 
less grave than was at first supposed and she was able to return 
to her children. But the hurried journey to Troyes, and the 
anxiety she had suffered on her husband's account, had exhausted 
her slender reserve of strength, and scarcely had she reached 
Conde-en-Brie, than she was taken dangerously ill. 

A courier, dispatched in all haste, found Conde at Vitry-le- 
Francpis, whither he had followed the Court, and, though, for 
reasons which will presently be understood, he was extremely 
loath to part from Isabelle at this juncture, he felt obliged to 
take leave of their Majesties and return to his neglected wife. 
On his arrival, he found her somewhat better, but the doctors 
did not disguise from him that her recovery was hopeless, and 
that, in all probability, she had but a few weeks to live. The 
prince, however, an incurable optimist, declined to believe that 
the case was as serious as they represented, and, though he 
decided to remain with her, it is evident, from the following 
letter, written by him to his nephew, the Prince de Porcien, that 
he was determined to get as much amusement out of his 
enforced sojourn by the domestic hearth as circumstances would 
permit : 

1 F. Decrue, " Anne, due de Montmorency, connetable et pair de France." 
1 Smith to Cecil, 14 April, 1563, State Papers (Elizabeth), Foreign Series. 


"MY NEPHEW My desire to have news of you prompts me 
to write you this letter, and, at the same time, to entreat that, 
if your convenience permits, you will come to see and console 
your good friend and relative, who is very wearied [ennuye] by 
his wife's serious illness. Come with your greyhounds and 
your horses and arms, if that be possible, and I will promise to 
show you as fine hunting as you could know how to find. My 
horse and arms will arrive here to-day, and I hope that, if you 
come, we shall find means, please God, to enjoy ourselves." l 

Meanwhile, the Court was continuing its progress. From 
Troyes, it proceeded to Bar-le-Duc, where Charles IX. stood 
sponsor to the infant son of his sister Claude and the Duke of 
Lorraine, and on 22 May arrived at Dijon, where it remained 
until the 3Oth, their Majesties being lodged in the palace of the 
old Dukes of Burgundy. 

It was during the sojourn of the Court in this town that the 
liaison of Conde and Isabelle de Limeuil had the most scanda- 
lous dfaofiment. At the Queen-Mother's coucher, according 
to some writers, at an audience given by their Majesties to 
a deputation which had come to present them with an address 
of welcome, according to others, Isabelle was suddenly taken 
ill, and carried into Catherine's wardrobe, where she gave birth 
to a fine boy, of whom she at once declared Conde to be the 
father. 2 

It was not the first casualty of its kind which had occurred in 
the ranks of the "escadron volant" Only a little while before, a 
like misfortune had befallen another maid-of-honour, Mile, de 
Vitry by name ; but, in this case, an open scandal had been 
avoided. Brought to bed in the morning, Mile, de Vitry had 
had the fortitude to drag herself to a ball given at the Louvre 
that same evening, and thus had contrived to preserve what 
shreds of reputation may have been left to her. 3 For a young 

1 Letter of 6 May, 1564, published by the Comte Jules Delaborde. 
* " Which was a great infamy for the so-called Reformed Religion." "Journal 
de Bruslard." 

1 La Ferriere, "Trois amoureuses au XVI e siecle." 


woman who ordinarily showed so much astuteness, Isabella, as 
Mezeray expresses it, had certainly " taken her measures 

Catherine, who still piqued herself on the outward decorum 
of her entourage, was beside herself with indignation. Her 
maids-of-honour might commit all the sins in the Decalogue 
with impunity, so long as they did not add to them the un- 
forgivable one of being found out ; but, once they were so 
maladroit as to be detected, they must expect no consideration 
at her hands. 

However, since Isabelle was, after all, a soldier wounded in 
her Majesty's service, and had done her duty nobly until she 
had been placed Jiors de combat, it is probable that no worse fate 
would have befallen her than dismissal from the " squadron " 
and the Court, had not her enemies profited by her misfortune 
to launch against her a most formidable accusation. 

Isabelle, as we have mentioned elsewhere, possessed a biting 
wit, which she was accustomed to exercise freely at the expense 
of those who were so unfortunate as to displease her, not 
sparing even the most exalted personages. The sharpness of 
her tongue, indeed, made her as many enemies as the charms 
of her person gained her admirers, and often those who 
approached her with words of devotion on their lips were so 
cruelly rebuffed that they retired with vengeance in their 

Among those whom she had thus contrived to offend, was 
Charles IX.'s former gouverneur, the Prince de la Roche-sur- 
Yon, a an extremely dangerous person for a maid-of-honour to 
have as an enemy, since not only was he a Prince of the Blood, 
and a gentleman of a peculiarly vindictive character, but his 
wife 8 held the post of Grand Mistress of Catherine's House- 
hold, a position which enabled her to make things extremely 
unpleasant for any of the Queen's damsels of whose conduct she 

1 "Abrege chronologique de 1'histoire de France." 

* Charles de Bourbon. He and his elder brother, Louis, Due de Montpensier, 
represented the younger branch of the Bourbons. 

* Philippe de Montespidon. She had been previously married to the Marechal 
de Montjean. 


happened to disapprove. Nor was it long before Isabelle had good 
reason to regret her treatment of the prince, for the latter took 
an early opportunity of representing to the Grand Mistress that 
it was high time to introduce " a little reformation " into the 
Queen's Household, and hinted that it might not be a bad plan 
were she to make a few inquiries as to the way in which Mile. 
de Limeuil passed her time when off duty. The lady was of 
her husband's opinion, and, from that moment, the maids-of- 
honour, and Isabelle in particular, found their opportunities for 
clandestine meetings with their admirers seriously curtailed ; 
while, as time went on, the Grand Mistress began to evince an 
interest in Mile, de Limeuil's health which occasioned the object 
of her solicitude infinite embarrassment. 

The girl, who well knew whom she had to thank for these 
annoyances, was furious against La Roche-sur-Yon, and made 
no secret of the hatred which she entertained for him. One of 
those to whom she expressed her opinion of the prince was the 
Comte de Maulevrier, 1 a great admirer of hers, who had himself 
no cause to love his Highness. In the summer of 1 560, it had 
happened that Maulevrier was hunting with the prince's only 
son, the Marquis de Beauprau, a boy of thirteen. The 
marquis's horse stumbled and fell ; Maulevrier, who was close 
behind, was unable to stop his, and the animal came down 
with all its weight upon the unfortunate lad, who was so badly 
crushed that he died shortly afterwards. Although this 
calamity was obviously due to pure accident, La Roche-sur- 
Yon, who had been passionately attached to his son, conceived 
the most violent resentment against Maulevrier, and swore that 
he should answer for the boy's life with his own. So threaten- 
ing an attitude did he assume, that the count deemed it prudent 
to go into hiding for some time, and though, thanks to the 
intervention of Catherine, the bereaved father was eventually 
persuaded to forego his vengeance, it was only on the 

1 Charles de la Marck (1538-1622). He was the second son of Robert de la 
Marck, Due de Bouillon. It is singular, in view of what we are about to relate, that 
he afterwards married as his second wife Antoinette de la Tour, younger sister of 


understanding that Maulevrier should never again venture to 
appear before him. 

Maulevrier had no desire to do so, and carefully avoided the 
prince, until one day, in the previous summer, they happened 
to meet by accident. No sooner did La Roche-sur-Yon catch 
sight of the involuntary murderer, than he drew his sword and 
rushed upon him like a madman, and the count only saved 
himself from being spitted like a fowl by promptly taking to 
his heels. 

Such being the relations between La Roche-sur-Yon and 
Maulevrier, it is not surprising that Isabelle should have 
expected to find in the latter a sympathetic listener, when she 
inveighed against the prince as the instigator of all the 
annoyances to which she and her colleagues were being subjected 
by the Grand Mistress, or that, when in his company, she 
should have occasionally indulged in that extravagant language 
in which angry and excitable women are accustomed to find an 
outlet for their wounded feelings, but to which, fortunately for 
them, sensible people seldom attach any importance. For how 
could she have imagined that Maulevrier, who had always 
expressed so much admiration for her, and who had himself 
been subjected to such unmerited persecution at the hands of 
La Roche-sur-Yon, would betray her confidences to their 
common enemy ? 

But Maulevrier, whether because he had some secret grudge 
against the girl, or, more probably, because he hoped that, by 
pretending to render a great service to La Roche-sur-Yon, he 
might persuade that personage to be reconciled to him, gave a 
most sinister interpretation to the expressions which the ex- 
asperated Isabelle permitted to escape her, and communicated 
them to the prince, with no doubt a good many exaggerations. 

No steps, however, seem to have been taken by La Roche- 
sur-Yon in the matter until the occurrence of the scandal which 
we have just related, when, having decided that the moment for 
action had arrived, he persuaded Maulevrier to draw up and 
sign a formal information against Isabelle, which he lost no time 
in laying before the King and the Queen-Mother. 


In this document, Maulevrier declared that Isabelle had on 
several occasions said to him : " If I were in your place, I 
should poison the prince" ; that during the journey of the 
Court she had indulged in the most violent language against 
his Highness, whom she accused of inspiring all the annoyances 
which his wife had inflicted upon the Queen's " maids," and 
of having sought to injure her in a matter which closely con- 
cerned her honour ; that, one evening, she had sent for him, and 
told him that La Roche-sur-Yon was giving a supper-party the 
following night, and that it would be the last that he would 
ever give, warning him, at the same time, not to repeat a word 
of what she had said, or " he would be found dead in the corner 
of some ditch " ; that, notwithstanding this threat, he had sent 
warning to the prince, who had begged him to entice Mile, de 
Limeuil into further confidences ; that, a few days later, the 
Court being at Vitry, the lady had said to him : " The coup 
failed ; the prince postponed his supper-party, but the oppor- 
tunity will recur " ; with which she drew from an envelope a 
white powder and gave him part of it, telling him to make his 
dog take it and he would see that in a short time the animal 
would be dead ; and, finally, that on the morning of a state 
dinner given at Bar-le-Duc, Mile, de Limeuil had remarked to 
him : " It is truly astonishing that the Queen-Mother has not 
been ill I" 1 

It was, of course, impossible for Charles IX. and Catherine 
to ignore so grave an accusation as that of having planned the 
poisoning of a Prince of the Blood, backed by evidence drawn 
up with such minuteness and precision of detail as to give it an 
air of probability. At the same time, Catherine would perhaps, 
in ordinary circumstances, have hesitated to accept the unsup- 
ported testimony of Maulevrier, who was not a person on whose 
word much reliance was usually placed. But, as La Roche-sur- 
Yon had, of course, foreseen, the scandal of which Isabelle had 
just been the cause was scarcely calculated to incline her to 
view the matter from a judicial standpoint ; and, at her instiga- 
tion, the King at once signed an order for Isabelle to be 
1 " Information con tie Isabelle de Limeuil," cited by La Ferriere. 


arrested and conducted to the Franciscan convent at Auxonne. 
Her child was taken away from her and given into the charge 
of a poor woman at Dijon. 

On arriving at Auxonne, Isabelle was received by M. de 
Ventoux, governor of the town, who conducted her to the 
convent. Here, she was incarcerated in a little, bare, low- 
ceilinged room, like a prison cell, and very strictly guarded. 
The unfortunate girl, though still in ignorance of the charge 
against her, was in despair, and, we are assured, for three days 
and nights did nothing but groan and weep. M. de Ventoux, 
a kindly man, who visited her several times, was touched with 
compassion, and, after vainly endeavouring to console her, 
despatched the most alarming reports of her condition to the 
Court, in one of which he declared that, if it were possible for 
a woman to die of melancholy, then assuredly she had not long 
to live. 

With such rapidity and secrecy had Isabelle been carried off 
from Dijon, that none of her relatives or friends at the Court 
had the least idea what had become of her. But, on receiving 
Ventoux's reports, the Queen-Mother so far relented as to 
authorize him to transmit to the prisoner all the letters which 
were addressed to her, and to forward to their destination those 
which she wrote herself, having first taken the precaution to 
open and copy them, since in this way some very useful informa- 
tion might be obtained. Singularly enough, neither Isabelle 
nor her friends seemed to have had the least suspicion that their 
correspondence was being tampered with. 

Catherine must have been disappointed if she expected to 
secure from these epistles any evidence in regard to the charge 
which had been brought against Isabelle, but, en revanche, they 
contained some interesting information concerning other matters. 
The first letters, for instance, which passed between the fair 
captive and M. du Fresne were peculiarly enlightening, and 
established beyond all possibility of doubt the character of their 

The enamoured Secretary of State begins by deploring that 
he had been unable to take farewell of the lady before the 


Court left Dijon ; but the mere suspicion that he had done so 
had so enraged the Queen-Mother that to have defied her 
would have probably entailed his prompt disgrace. On the 
other hand, the Prince de Conde*, whom he had taken upon 
himself to inform of the interesting event which had taken 
place at Dijon and of the subsequent disappearance of its 
heroine, had expressed much annoyance, because he had 
happened to mention that he had lent Isabelle a dressing-gown, 
being evidently of opinion that it was a piece of presumption 
for any one but himself to assist the lady. " It is very 
strange," he writes, " that, being abandoned, as I was able to 
tell him you had been by every one, the prince should take it 
ill that you have been visited and succoured by those who were 
incurring risks in order to serve you." However, he should not 
cease to employ his life and his property for her, "the person 
whom he loved and esteemed the most in the world." But, at 
the same time, he thinks it would be perhaps advisable for her 
to return the dressing-gown, " since he saw clearly that it was 
not agreeable to the prince [Conde] that she should make use 
of it." And he concludes by reminding her of the happy days 
they had spent together when the Court was in Normandy the 
previous summer, when he had received " tant de contentement." 
In a postscript, he bids her burn his letter, which, in view of the 
fact that a copy was already in the hands of M. de Ventoux, 
seems a rather unnecessary precaution. 

Isabelle's reply was calculated to satisfy the most exacting 
of lovers. It was impossible to tell him what pleasure his letter 
had given her ; words quite failed her to describe it. She did 
nothing all day but think of him, and he might rest assured that, 
whatever Fortune might have in store for her, she would never 
cease to love him. [The minx will write much the same to 
Conde a little later.] She sends him a scarf woven with her 
own fair hands, two pictures of saints which she has painted, 
a heart, and a book, the " Patience of Job," which, is "fort 
d propos" She concludes by kissing his hands " thousands and 
millions of times." l 

1 " Information centre Isabelle de Limeuil." 


It was, as we have seen, through the medium of Du Fresne 
that Conde, retained by the bedside of his dying wife, was 
informed of the misfortunes of Isabelle. To receive such news 
of his mistress through the courtesy of a rival occasioned him, 
as may be supposed, the keenest mortification ; and his jealousy 
reveals itself very plainly in the first letter which he addressed 
to the lady : 

" Alas ! my heart, what can I say to you, save that I am 
more dead than alive, seeing that I am deprived of the means 
of serving you, and seeing you depart l without knowing how I 
may be able to aid you ? M. du Fresne often informs me that 
you send him news of yourself, but I, I cannot know whither 
you have been conducted, and I am greatly astonished, since you 
have the means of writing to some persons, that I may not 
receive your letters also. For you know that there is not a man 
in the world who would be so much grieved at your distress as 
myself, nor who, with greater gaiety of heart, would be more 
determined to hazard his life to do you a useful service. I am 
sending you one of my dressing-gowns, which has served me 
and you also when we were together, begging you to believe 
that I should prefer you to your gown, since I should be of 
more service to you than a sable. Let me know that you are 
as anxious to retain me in your good graces, now that you are a 
captive as when you were at liberty ; for you know that, being 
accustomed not to share them with any one, but to be the first 
and the only one, I feel sure that you have not lost the good 
opinion that you have of me, but, on the contrary, that it is 
rather increased. It remains to make use of me and to give me 
the opportunity of coming to free you from the trouble in which 
you are, for you must acquaint me with the means of doing so. 
I have eyes which do nothing but weep, and strength which is 
inanimate, since it is not commanded by you." 

If Conde 1 had been unable at first to discover the place 
where his Isabelle had been incarcerated, he had succeeded in 
getting her son into his possession ; and, having received two 

1 The word, almost illegible, may be either partir or p&tir (to be io distress). 


letters from Isabelle recommending the child to his care, he 
hastens to relieve her maternal anxiety : 

" I shall content myself by telling you that I have our son 
in my hands, safe, and merry and certain to live. ... It is 
true that they had left him at the house of a poor woman, who 
made him lie on straw for six nights, like a hound, which I 
thought very strange. But if, at the beginning, those to whom 
he did not belong treated him like a little dog, I have taken 
him like a father to bring him up en prince. He deserves 
it, for he is the most beautiful creature that ever man saw." 

And the lovelorn prince concludes : 

" If I do not see you soon, I would as lief die as live. I 
desire it as much or more than my salvation." And, at the end 
of the monogram which replaces the signature, he writes : " Let 
us die together ! " 

On receiving this epistle, which confirmed the warning 
which Du Fresne had given her concerning the suspicions of 
Conde", Isabelle hastened to assure the prince that her heart 
was wholly his, and that henceforth she would communicate 
with him alone. Meantime, however, Conde had learned that 
gossip was far from unanimous in attributing the paternity of 
the child to him, and that the general opinion at the Court 
was that M. du Fresne's claims to the honour were at least 
equal to his own. 1 All aflame with jealousy, he writes to his 
mistress : 

" I assure you, my heart, that I am very greatly annoyed 
that people are able to find in your conduct reason to ask : 
' Whose is this child ? ' which is as much as to say that you 
admit two persons to a like degree of favour. I do not tell you 
this because; I believe it, as I will show you ; for I will give 

1 A Latin satire of the time ran : 

" At multi dicunt quod pater 
Non est princeps, sed est alter 
Qui Regi est a secretis 
Omnibus est notus satis." 


you a proof whether I love you or no in a few days. My heart, 
since we have gone so far, we must raise the mask, for every 
one knows what has passed between us. You will be honoured 
and esteemed by all, since you show them, as much in small 
things as in great, that you do not wish to address or to 
receive news save from him whom you have loved more than 
that which you prize more dearly than yourself \i.e. her 
honour]. . . . You have heard that they speak at the Court of 
a certain person [Du Fresne]. You must take care to silence 
these false reports. You need not resort to oaths to make me 
believe that your son is mine, for I have no more doubt of him 
than of those of my wife. But act in such a way that others 
may be able to entertain no doubt of it, and reflect that 
whoever sees him will say with reason that he is my son and 
yours, for our two faces are to be recognized in his. I implore 
you, my heart, to love me and never to abandon me, as you 
have promised ; and when you remind yourself of the occasion 
on which it was made, I am sure that you will keep your 
promise to me. I send you a fur-lined dressing-gown. I 
should like to be near you in its place, for I cannot be so 
useless as not to be of as much service to you as it will be. 

" Our son is very well, and is being well taken care of, and 
is in my hands, which is my only consolation, since I am 
separated from you, and is a pledge to render me for ever 
assured of remaining in your good graces, which is the 
thing which I prize the most, and more so than I have ever 

In a third letter, couched in equally passionate terms, the 
prince informs his lady-love that he has entrusted her son to a 
gentleman who will bring him up as one of his own children, 
advises her to write to the Queen-Mother to implore her 
clemency, and impresses upon her the importance of receiving 
only the servants whom he may send to her, "by which she 
will make it known that she loves no one save him." 
He concludes by assuring her that he intends to live and die 
with her. 


On 9 June, the bishop of the diocese, Du Puy, and the 
Sieur Sarlan, one of Catherine's maitres cFhotel, who had 
received a commission from the King to investigate the charges 
against Isabelle, arrived at Auxonne. The prisoner was brought 
before them and very closely interrogated. She admitted that 
she had bitter cause to complain of La Roche-sur-Yon, who 
had not only egged on his wife to pester her with questions 
concerning her health, but had told Conde that he was " very 
blind and very credulous if he believed that Limeuil was with 
child by him." At the same time, she denied absolutely that 
she had ever made, or even contemplated, an attempt upon the 
life of the prince. Nor had she ever suggested to Maulevrier 
that he should poison his Highness, although, on one occasion, 
when she and the count were in the company of a number of 
other persons, she had heard some one, whom she did not name, 
advise Maulevrier to make away with him, " in the interests of 
his repose." Mile de Bourdeille, 1 who was one of those present, 
would confirm her statement. 

The commissioners departed for Lyons, where the Court 
had just arrived, taking with them a very dignified and pathetic 
letter from Isabelle to the Queen-Mother : 

" MADAME After having heard from the Sieurs Sarlan and 
Du Puy the reasons which have induced your Majesty to send 
them to me, it has afflicted me to such a degree that, but for 
the aid of God and the hope that I repose in your kindness, I 
should have fallen into the greatest despair that a poor creature 
could be in, not being so forgetful of God as to have conceived 
or meditated such wickedness. When it shall have pleased 
God to make known to you my innocence, I implore you, for 
the honour of those to whom I am related, to do such justice 
upon the false accuser as I should have deserved, had I 
committed such a crime." 

Meanwhile Conde had not been idle. He had sent to 
Auxonne one of his confidential servants, who had put himself 
into communication with the leading Huguenots of the town, 

1 The sister of Brantome. 


with a view to an attempt to liberate Isabelle vi et armis, and, 
at the beginning of July, Ventoux, getting wind of this, wrote, 
in great alarm, to Catherine, declaring that he could no longer 
be responsible for the safety of the prisoner, and urging her 
removal to some place where she would be in greater security. 
Her Majesty thereupon despatched her first valet de chambre, 
Gentil, with six of her guards to Auxonne, with orders to 
conduct Isabelle to Vienne. 

The lady was in despair when informed that she was to 
leave the convent, and with good reason, since it would appear 
that Condi's supporters had arranged to make an attempt to 
carry her off a night or two later. At first, she refused to 
budge and threatened to kill herself; but eventually she 
thought better of it, and allowed herself to be conducted to the 
river, where she and her escort embarked in a boat to proceed 
to Magon, the first stage of their journey. Scarcely, however, 
had they got her on board, when she was seized with a violent 
attack of hysteria and gave vent to the most heartrending cries. 
Then, for a whole day and a night she refused either to eat or 
drink, until Gentil began to fear that she would never reach her 
destination alive. At length, however, she became more tract- 
able, partook of some food, and, asking for writing materials, 
indited an appealing letter to Conde, which was intercepted by 
Gentil and, in due course, transmitted to Catherine. It was 
as follows : 

"Alas! my heart, have pity upon a poor creature who 
suffers all things for having loved you more than herself. 1 My 
affliction will be only pleasure, provided, that you remember me, 
and that I am so happy as to be the only one to possess your 
love. I am so afraid that my absence has the misfortune to 
banish me from your good graces, which tortures me more than 
I can describe. My heart, help me and free me from the position 
in which I have no. more to suffer for the rest of my life. Write 

1 From this it is evident that Isabelle had refrained from informing Conde of the 
charge that had been brought against her, and allowed him to suppose that the Dijon 
scandal was the sole cause of her imprisonment. 


to the Queen in my favour and make the Marshal de Bourdillon 

On reaching Magon, Gentil decided that it was inadvisable 
to proceed further with so weak an escort, for the Huguenots 
were very strong in that part of the country, and he accord- 
ingly wrote to Catherine begging her to send reinforcements, as 
he was in hourly dread of being attacked and his prisoner 
carried off. On her side, Isabelle, more and more alarmed 
as to the fate in store for her, profited by the delay to write 
another despairing letter to Conde, which, like the first, was 
intercepted by the vigilant Gentil and forwarded to his 
mistress : 

" The Queen is sending me to Lyons ; if you have not 
compassion on me, I see myself the most miserable creature in the 
world, in such manner do they drag me about, with soldiers for 
my guards, as though I were a person who had merited death. 
I have no hope save in God and you. It would be well for you 
to write to Madame de Savoie, 1 to persuade her to obtain my 
pardon from the Queen. I am a more faithful, a more 
affectionate, slave to you than ever I was, and the greater my 
tortures, the more I adore you. Send to this Lyonnais country 
to ascertain where I may be. I believe that I shall not be 
far away from it. Alas I my heart, remember that you have 
promised to be faithful to me. Place me in such a position 
that, at least ere I die, I may be able to see you. Have no 
other heart than mine, or make me die first I kiss your hands 
and feet a thousand times." 

On the arrival of the soldiers demanded by Gentil, Isabelle 
was conducted to Lyons and thence to Vienne, where she arrived 
on 1 8 July, and was incarcerated in the Chateau des Canoux. 
Here she was again examined, this time by two members 
of the Council, the Bishops of Orleans and Limoges, who 
were frequently employed in important negotiations. The two 

1 Marguerite de Valois, youngest daughter of Francois I., who had married, in 
1559, Emmanuel Philibert X,, Duke of Savoy. 


bishops brought Maulevrier with them and confronted him with 
the prisoner, who gave him, as may be supposed, an exceedingly 
warm reception, " liar," " evil liver," and " drunkard " being 
among the epithets which she hurled at his head. Maulevrier 
persisted in his charges, but could call no evidence to support 
them ; Isabelle reiterated her denials. Their lordships, 
though they pretended to look very wise, could make nothing 
of the affair at all ; but, since a man is not less a man because 
he happens to be a bishop, and Isabelle's beauty and distress 
had not been without its effect upon them, they left her with 
a promise to intercede for her with the Queen. 

Their intercession, however, does not appear to have had 
any effect, for the months passed, and the lady still remained 
under lock and key. 


Death of the Princesse de Conde" Question of the prince's remarriage 
The Mardchale de Saint-Andre's bid for his hand Rumours of a matrimonial 
alliance with the Guises Catherine de' Medici, alarmed at such a prospect, 
resolves to set Mile, de Limeuil at liberty Isabelle joins Conde' at Valery 
Intense indignation of the Huguenots at the scandalous conduct of the 
prince Quarrel between Condd and Coligny The leaders of the party 
take counsel together " to find a remedy for so great an evil " The deputa- 
tion of Protestant pastors Conde* declines to separate from his mistress* 
but eventually breaks with her His marriage with Mile, de Longueville 
Cond^ persuaded by his wife to demand the return of the presents he has 
given his mistress Revenge of Isabelle Her marriage Renewal of the 
civil war Battle of Saint-Denis Peace of Longjumeau Flight of Conde" 
to La Rochelle Third war of Religion breaks out Battle of Jarnac 
Death of Conde". 

MEANWHILE, an event had occurred which had 
occasioned a great stir in both political camps. 
The gloomy prognostications of the Princesse de 
Condi's physicians, which her husband had at first ridiculed, 
proved only too correct ; all through the remainder of the 
spring and the first weeks of summer the poor lady was 
gradually becoming weaker, and by the middle of July it was 
plain that she had but a few days to live. To the last she 
was full of consideration for the husband who had shown so 
little consideration for her. " Fearing to distress him too much, 
if she told him herself that she felt death approaching," writes 
her biographer, "the princess charged two grave personages, 
friends of her family, to go to Conde's apartments, to acquaint 
him with what she foresaw must soon happen, and to ask to be 
allowed to entrust him with her last wishes in an authentic 
form. 'Tell the prince,' said she to these two friends, 'that, 
since God is pleased so soon to separate our bodies, I trust 



that at least our souls may continue to be bound inseparably 
together in the love that we ought to bear to our common 
Saviour Jesus Christ, who has delivered us so miraculously, in 
the eyes of all Europe, from so many enemies and dangers. 
Tell him also that, to begin my will, I constitute him the 
universal heir to the mass of love I have vowed to my children, 
and I conjure him, in loving them doubly henceforth both for 
himself and for me, to keep vigil in my place, so that they 
may be brought up in the fear of God, which I am convinced 
is the surest estate and patrimony that I can bequeath to 
them."' 1 

Conde" appeared to be profoundly affected. He declared 
that he had received from the princess a lesson in courage 
which he should strive to follow out of love for her and 
her children ; adding that the latter would always find him 
faithful to the last recommendations of their mother. "God, 
who joined us now divides us, since it pleases Him," he 
exclaimed. " Oh ! blessed will be the moment when He ordains 
that we shall be reunited in Heaven in an eternal bond ! " 

These pious expressions, which, though they may appear so 
out of place on the lips of the lover of Isabelle de Limeuil, were 
probably uttered in all sincerity, seem to have greatly comforted 
the poor princess, who then sent for two notaries and dictated 
to them her will. 

Afterwards, she summoned her chaplain Perussel, who, it 
will be remembered, had shared Conde's captivity after Dreux, 
and another minister, and conversed with them on spiritual 
matters. On their departure, Conde returned to her bedside, 
and spoke to her some affectionate words. " Four things," 
replied the dying princess, taking his hands in hers, "render 
me happy : the first is the assurance of my salvation, the second, 
the reputation of being a good wife, which, by God's grace, I 
have always had ; the third, the certainty that you are satisfied 
with me, because I have always as faithfully served, loved, and 
honoured you as it was possible for a wife, in this world, to 
serve, honour, and love her husband ; the fourth, my joy that 
1 Comte Jules Delaborde, " itleonore de Roye, Princesse de CondeY* 


God leaves to my children a father and a grandmother who 
will bring them up in the fear of God, in accordance with my 
principal desire." And, after a moment's silence, she added : 
" And now I must finish my course to gain the prize which I 
see prepared for me at the end of the lists of this laborious 

Conde then withdrew, and the princess's children entered to 
take farewell of her and receive her last recommendations. 

Towards midnight, fearing that she would soon be too weak 
to make herself understood, she expressed a wish to have a 
final conversation with her husband. " I am sure," said she, 
" that the prince will not mind being awakened for this occasion, 
and it would not be well to wait until I could no longer declare 
to him the things that God has put into my heart" 

On the arrival of Conde, every one present withdrew out of 
hearing, and husband and wife conversed together for nearly an 

The end came at eight o'clock the following morning (23 July, 
1564). Conde, who had quite broken down, had retired to 
his own room, and one of the Huguenot ministers, who had been 
with the princess in her last moments, came to break the sad 
news to him. Dissolute as his life had been of late years, his 
heart was not quite corrupted, and the grief which he experienced 
was accentuated by remorse for the pain which his infidelities 
had so often caused the devoted companion who had just been 
taken from him. Now, probably for the first time, he seemed 
to realize her worth, and nothing could have been more touch- 
ing than the terms in which he spoke of her to his weeping 
children. " Strive, my darling," said he to his little daughter, 
" to resemble your mother, that God may help you as He helped 
her, that every one may esteem you, and that I may love you more 
and more, as I shall surely do if you are as she was." Then, 
laying his hand on the head of the Marquis de Conti, he added : 
" My son, you are the first pledge of the blessing and favour of 
marriage which God gave to your mother and myself. See 
that you always give me joy and consolation, which you will do 
if you follow in the footsteps of your mother in the way of 

-' V 




virtue. Recognize the traces, for fear lest you go astray along 
the paths of the dangerous labyrinth of this world. Sons are 
usually like their fathers, but you must strive to copy the 
virtues of your mother. For you will be told things about your 
father and his life that you ought not to imitate, though there 
are other things in him that you must follow. But in your 
mother . . . you will find nothing which is not worthy to be a 
treasured example, as she was worthy of a place in the fore- 
most ranks of virtuous women." 1 

Conde's grief had, for the moment, exalted him, but his 
impressions were always more violent than lasting, and scandal 
was soon to be busy again with his name. 

Scarcely had the grave closed upon leonore de Roye than 
all kinds of rumours were in circulation as to her probable 
successor, for no one doubted that a prince in the very prime 
of manhood and of so " amorous a complexion " would take 
unto himself a second wife with as little delay as need be. 

It was said that the Marechale de Saint-Andre was 
determined to have him ; and the death of the little Mile, de 
Saint- Andre, which had occurred at the Convent of Longchamps 
three weeks before that of Conde's wife, whereby the little girl's 
immense fortune passed to her mother, was freely ascribed to 
a diabolical crime on the part of the marechale, in order to 
facilitate her union with the prospective widower. 

There would not appear to have been any foundation for so 
terrible a charge, though the marechale, who, besides being 
desperately enamoured of Conde, was a very ambitious woman, 
was certainly prepared to move heaven and earth to secure her 
elevation to the rank of Princess of the Blood. No sooner did 
she learn that poor leonore de Roye's recovery had been 
pronounced hopeless than, with the object of establishing claims 
to the expected vacancy which it would be difficult to ignore, 
she made the prince a present of the estate and magnificent 
chateau of Valery, near Sens, which her luxurious husband had 
rebuilt and furnished with the most costly magnificence. At 

1 Comte Jules Delaborde, " Eleonore de Roye, Princesse de Conde." 


the time when it was made, the singularity of this donation was 
somewhat modified by the fact that the Queen-Mother had 
withdrawn her objections to the marriage of the Marquis de 
Conti and Mile, de Saint-Andre. But when, after the death of 
the latter had put an end to this project, the marechale not only 
confirmed the gift of Valery, but added to it a considerable 
part of the fortune left by her daughter, it was no longer 
possible to disguise the motive of such unexampled generosity ; 
and people said very unkind things, both about the giver and 
the prince, who had accepted, apparently without a blush, an 
almost regal present from one of his avowed mistresses. 

Other rumours espoused Conde to Catherine de Lorraine, 
daughter of the late Due de Guise, or to her widowed mother, 
Anne d'Este, still very beautiful ; while others again united him 
to Mary, Queen of Scots. 

The prince had no intention of gratifying the ambitions of 
the Marechale de Saint- Andre, being of opinion that to become 
her husband would be to pay altogether too high a price for 
Valery. But he was not indisposed to a union with the Guises, 
for, though they had done him much injury in the past, the 
death of their illustrious head had deprived them of their 
influence, and he was of too generous a nature to cherish 
rancour against a fallen foe. 

The Guises on their side, hated by the Huguenots, disliked 
by the Montmorencies, and distrusted by the Queen, were 
sincerely anxious for a union with Conde. At the end of 
December 1564, the Cardinal de Lorraine, returning from the 
Council of Trent, passed through Soissons, to which town the 
prince had come, on a visit to his sister, Catherine de Bourbon, 
abbess of the Convent of Notre-Dame. A very cordial inter- 
view took place between them, in which his Eminence suggested 
to Conde a marriage between him and Mary Stuart. The 
cardinal had already approached his niece on the subject, excusing 
the inconsistency of a Prince of the Church recommending a 
heretic as a husband on the ground that the Huguenots were 
so determined to compass his ruin that the marriage was 
absolutely necessary for his political salvation. It is true that 


he had received scant encouragement from that quarter, since 
the young queen strongly resented the idea that she should 
sacrifice her own inclinations for his Eminence's advantage. 
" Truly I am beholden to my uncle," she exclaimed, ironically. 
" So that it be well with him, he careth not what becometh of 
me." * Nevertheless, the cardinal did not despair of ultimately 
obtaining her consent. 

On leaving Soissons, the Cardinal de Lorraine proceeded to 
Paris, followed by " fifty arquebusiers and some hundreds of his 
friends and servants, with arms, pistols, and arquebuses." On 
reaching Saint-Denis, he was met by a gentleman of the Marechal 
de Montmorency, governor of the Ile-de-France and his personal 
enemy, who warned him that he could not be permitted to enter 
the city with an armed retinue, since the edicts forbade it. The 
prelate, however, thought proper to ignore this warning, and, on 
8 January, 1 565, he and his whole company entered Paris by the 
Porte Saint-Denis. Near the Church of the Innocents they 
were met by Montmorency, at the head of a considerable 
force. The marshal called upon them to lay down their arms ; 
one man refused and was immediately killed ; the rest obeyed, 
and the cardinal, never remarkable for his personal courage, 
took refuge in the house of a merchant, where he remained until 
nightfall. 2 

This affair caused a great commotion. The partisans of the 
Guises assembled at Meudon, under the leadership of the Due 
d'Aumale, and assumed a most threatening attitude ; the 
Marechal de Montmorency summoned his friends to his 
assistance, and, since he was known to favour the Huguenots, 
Coligny and a number of Protestant gentlemen hastened to 
Paris to offer him their services. To the general astonishment, 
however, Conde took the cardinal's part and openly blamed 
Montmorency. "If," said he, referring to the fragas by the 
Innocents, " this was intended for a jest, it was too much ; if it 
was in earnest, too little." 

With the object of showing his sympathy with the cardinal 

1 Martin Hume, "The Courtships of Mary Stuart." 
* Castelnau, "M&noires." 


in a more practical form, at the end of January, he, in his turn, 
had the pretension to enter Paris with three hundred horse. On 
reaching the Bastille, however, he received a message from 
Montmorency summoning him to retire immediately, which he 
did, though not without addressing a letter of protest to the 
King, which was the cause of violent dissensions in the Council, 
where the Cardinal de Bourbon took the part of his brother, and 
the Constable energetically defended the action of his son. On 
a second visit to the capital, which the prince paid a few weeks 
later, he assured the Bishop of Paris that he would protect the 
ecclesiastical hierarchy, and that he deplored the affront which 
had been offered the Cardinal de Lorraine ; and when the 
Parlement complained that, in contravention of the edict, 
preches had been held at his house, he answered that he had 
neither authorized nor attended them. 

The conduct of the prince, which seemed to foreshadow a 
complete change of policy on his part, and to confirm the rumours 
already in circulation as to a matrimonial alliance with the Guises, 
naturally gave the greatest umbrage to the Huguenots, and the 
extreme section of the party, already, as we have seen, very dis- 
satisfied with their leader, vented their annoyance in a stream of 
lampoons and satires. The Due d'Aumale, in his " Histoire des 
Princes de Conde*," stigmatizes the Protestants as " unjust and 
ungrateful," and declares that " there is no proof that Conde* ever 
contemplated a union by marriage with the House of Lorraine." 
" In any case," continues the royal historian, " if he did ' bind 
himself afresh ' to his former rivals ; if he refused to take part 
in all the quarrels and to share all the passions which were 
raging around him, it was because he was sincerely desirous 
to obliterate the traces, and prevent the renewal, of the civil 

The Due d'Aumale could not, however, have been aware, at 
the time when this was published, of a letter written by Mary 
Stuart to her aunt the Duchesse d'Arschot, from which it would 
appear that the project of a marriage between Conde" and the 
beautiful young widow of Francois II. had not only been very 
favourably received by the prince, but that he had actually 


taken some active steps in the matter. " I hear," writes Mary, 
"that the Prince de Conde has demanded my hand of my 
grandmother * and of the Cardinal de Lorraine, my uncle, and 
that he has made the most splendid offers imaginable, both in 
regard to religion and other matters." 2 

Whatever offers Conde may have made, they had no effect 
upon Mary, who was now firmly resolved to marry Darnley, and 
was, besides, thoroughly disgusted with the unabashed selfishness 
of the Cardinal de Lorraine. But the Queen of Scotland was 
not the only card in his Eminence's hand, and, though a match 
with the widowed Duchesse de Guise whose infatuation for the 
fascinating Due de Nemours was common knowledge or with 
her daughter, a girl of thirteen, was not likely to prove so 
attractive to Conde, there was still a possibility that it might be 
arranged, and for months the Protestants were in a state of 

Their alarm was shared by Catherine de' Medici, to whom 
the prospect of so intimate a rapprochement between the Houses 
of Bourbon and Lorraine was anything but pleasing. Fully 
sensible though her Majesty was of the importance of detaching 
the first Prince of the Blood from the Protestant cause, she judged 
that this advantage would be too dearly purchased by the sub- 
ordination of the Crown to two ambitious families, which would 
be the inevitable consequence of their alliance ; and she was 
determined to use every means in her power to avert such a 
calamity. It was, of course, the King's prerogative to refuse to 
sanction a marriage of which he might happen to disapprove, but 
arbitrary measures seldom commended themselves to Catherine, 
who always preferred to gain her ends by indirect means, and 
shift the odium which she would; otherwise incur upon the 
shoulders of her agents. She therefore bethought herself of 
Isabelle de Limeuil, who had lately been transferred from 
Vienne to the Chateau of Tournon. Here, ready to her hand, 
was a woman, who, as their intercepted correspondence had 
shown her, had contrived, notwithstanding the infidelities of 

1 Antoinette de Bourbon, widow of Claude de Lorraine. 
8 Labanoff, " Lettres de Marie Stuart." 


Conde, to preserve all her power over him a woman who knew 
better than any other how to govern that emotional and fickle 
heart, by associating the most incredible expressions of tender- 
ness with the most exaggerated flatteries. If Isabelle and her 
prince were brought together again, if matters could be so 
arranged that the latter should be compelled to offer his mistress 
the shelter of one of his own residences, was it not probable that, 
in the joy of this reunion, the question of his second marriage 
would be relegated, for a time at least, to the background ? And 
was it not probable, too, that the open scandal would provoke 
remonstrances from his co-religionists which would irritate 
Conde and widen the breach which existed between him and 
his party ? 

Interesting indeed must have been the letters which passed 
at this time between the captive of Tournon and the enamoured 
prince, as the result of which Isabelle was not only rescued from 
her prison, but conducted to her lover at Valery, the chateau 
presented to Conde* by her rival a piquant revenge, in good 
truth, upon the Marechale de Saint-Andre for the advantage 
which she had taken of Isabelle's enforced absence from the 
field ! Unfortunately, the correspondence has not been pre- 
served, and the only light cast upon the situation is a passage 
in a despatch from Smith to Cecil, dated 10 April, 1565 : "The 
Prince de Conde has by a certain gentleman stolen Mademoiselle 
de Lymoel (sic) from Tournon, where she was kept, and has her 
with him." l 

And has her with him ! Yes, under the same roof! " Grand 
Dieu! it was enough to make Calvin rise from his grave!" 8 
cried the Huguenot pastors, holding up their hands in righteous 
horror. " Had the prince taken leave of his senses that he should 
choose to create a public scandal and make 'the Religion' a 
by-word in the mouths of the froward, at the very moment 
when Catherine and Philip of Spain were believed to be plotting 
its destruction ? Had not the way of salvation been made 
sufficiently plain to him? Had not Beze and Perussel and 
1'Espine and Laboissiere spread the choicest flowers of their 

1 State Papers (Elizabeth), Foreign Series. 2 Calvin had died on 27 May, 1564. 


eloquence before him, and in sermons two hours long insisted 
on the necessity of the leaders of the faithful leading lives that 
should be beyond reproach. And this was the result ! Out 
upon him for an evil-liver and an apostate ! " 

The politicians of the party were scarcely less indignant 
than the divines, and the reappearance of Isabelle upon the 
scene was the signal for a very pretty quarrel between them 
and the prince, of which a piquant account is given in an 
anonymous letter in Italian in the Simancas Collection : 

" I have seen a letter of Madame de Chelles, 1 from which 
she appears to entertain great hopes of friendship between her 
brother and the cardinal [de Lorraine]. My friend and I think 
that nothing can be founded upon the words or the acts of so 
frivolous a man as Conde shows himself to be, who is at present 
more than ever enamoured of his Limeuil. Paroceli 3 has been 
here four or five days, and has preached in private to his 
Huguenots. Languet learned from him that dissension has 
arisen, on the subject of la Limeuil, between Conde and 
Chatillon [Coligny], and subsequently between the aforesaid 
Conde" and his followers, in such manner that Chatillon has 
parted from him, has come to Paris, and has withdrawn, some 
say to Chatillon, others to an abbey belonging to him, and that 
Condi's followers have almost all abandoned him. 

" The occasion of this was that a certain letter was written 
to Conde from Paris, at the close of which was written : ' The 
young lady has come.' Chatillon, who was standing over 
Conde as he read the letter, saw these words, and, guessing 
what they meant, said to Conde : * I can tell what young lady 
it is that has come to Paris.' To which Conde replied in 
certain words which showed that Chatillon's speech was not 
agreeable to him ; but the matter did not go any further for the 
time being. 

" After la Limeuil had arrived at the place to which Conde 
had ordered her to be conducted, and they had been seen 

1 Renee de Bourbon, Abbess of Chelles, sister of Conde. 

* Presumably Conde's chaplain, P&ssel, whose name is sometimes written 


together, certain Huguenot gentlemen went and found Conde, 
and began to admonish him, and, so to speak, to reprove him 
on the subject of his mistress. Upon which, Conde, supposing 
that his secret had been revealed to them by Chatillon, and 
that it was at his instigation that they had come to reprove 
him, grew angry and said many things against them, designating 
them spies, and then adding that it was Chatillon who had told 
them this, and had sent them to talk to him ; and with such 
indignation that he went on to say much evil of Chatillon and 
his whole House . . . accusing them of arrogance, of presump- 
tion, and of not only wishing to put themselves on a level with 
princes, when they were naught but gentlemen of humble rank, 
but even of daring to insult him ; and that it was not in 
his nature to suffer this any longer. Through these and 
such-like words, and even worse, it came about that Chatillon 
separated himself from Conde. The greater part of the 
Huguenots have done likewise, so that he finds himself now 
almost alone." 

However, a little reflection sufficed to convince the 
Huguenot leaders that the discredit which it was bringing upon 
their Faith was not the most serious aspect of Conde's infatua- 
tion for Isabelle ; in other words, that Catherine was at the 
bottom of the affair, and had deliberately thrown the two 
together again, " with a view to the prince becoming what his 
brother had already become by means of la Rouet." " Suspect- 
ing which," continues the writer of the letter already cited, " the 
gentlemen of Conde's party took counsel together to find a 
remedy for so great an evil, and resolved upon three courses : 
first, that the ministers should speak out roundly to him, 
representing the personal danger and disgrace of the affair, and 
the scandal common to the whole Religion, since he was its 
chief, and persuade him, if he could not keep continent, to take 
a wife. The second remedy, if the first did not succeed, was 
for the principal gentleman of the Religion, acting in common 
accord, and his own intimate friends, to wait upon him and 
address to him the same remonstrances, making him understand 
that, if he did not separate himself from la Limeuil, they would 


leave him alone ; and, in effect, if he declined to do so, 
they would leave him. The third remedy, in the event of the 
first two not succeeding, was that la Limeuil should be 
excommunicated, anathematized, and delivered into the power 
of Satan." 

In accordance with these resolutions, a deputation selected 
from the most prominent Huguenot divines waited upon the 
backsliding prince at Valery and endeavoured to awaken him 
to a sense of the error of his ways. Conde received his 
reverend friends courteously enough, but declared that he 
",'could not keep continent and could not take a wife, since it 
was difficult to find a person of his own rank belonging 
to the same religion, and impossible to find one of another 

Sadly the ministers withdrew, and the lay deputation 
advanced to the attack. It met with anything but a cordial 
reception : indeed, his Highness expressed his opinion of its 
interference with his private affairs in such exceedingly plain 
language that it was obliged to beat a precipitate retreat. 
Whence, we are told, "the Religion found itself in great 
trouble and knew not what further to do, since it feared to 
make matters worse by excommunicating la Limeuil, Conde 
being of a nature so inclined to women that there was great 
danger lest la Limeuil should have more power over him than 
the Religion." 

The counsel of the more prudent members of the party was 
to leave things alone, and to trust to time. It proved a wise 
decision. Passions of this kind are more frequently nourished 
than overcome by opposition ; while, on the other hand, the 
greater the facilities for enjoying the society of the enchantress, 
the more speedily do disillusion and lassitude arrive. After 
the first rapture of the reunion, Conde began to ask himself 
whether, after all, he was not acting very unwisely in quarrelling 
with his personal friends and jeopardizing his political future 
for the sake of a girl who had been the cause of so much 
scandal, and who, he had good reason to believe, had not even 
troubled to remain faithful to him. Isabelle, perceiving that 


the prince had not the least intention of regularizing their 
connexion, and mortified by the manner in which her name was 
being bandied about, began to regard Conde as the author of 
her misfortunes. Hence arose quarrels, tears, recriminations. 
Conde reproached Isabelle with her intimacy with Du Fresne 
and others. Isabelle retorted by accusing the prince of neglect- 
ing her for the Marechale de Saint-Andre, to whom, in recog- 
nition of the gift of Valery, he had felt obliged to pay some 
fugitive attentions, and did not fail to take advantage of the 
opportunity which his acceptance of the marechale's calculating 
generosity afforded her for the exercise of her powers of 
sarcasm. Wit is a dangerous weapon for lovers to play with, 
and Isabelle's was sharper than a two-edged sword. 

At length, the situation became so unpleasant that Conde* 
determined to put an end to it ; and, towards the close of the 
spring, he broke of his own free will with Isabelle and was 
reconciled to the Protestants. They, needless to say, received 
the repentant prodigal with open arms and lost no time in 
setting to work to procure him a second wife. They found 
her in Mile, de Longueville, 1 a young lady who joined to high 
rank and the profession of the Reformed faith considerable 
personal attractions, and, in September, Cond6 set off for Niort 
to obtain the King's sanction to his marriage, "leaving the 
Marechale de Saint-Andr6 dissolved in tears and regrets for 
having been so foolish as to consume her substance in vain 
expenses to acquire the quality of the wife of a Prince of the 

Catherine, though disappointed at the reconciliation between 
Cond6 and his party, was greatly relieved that the prospect of 

1 Frangoise Marie d'Orleans, posthumous daughter of Frangois d'Orleans, 
Marquis de Rothelin, a cadet of the House of Longueville, and Jacqueline de 
Rohan. The House of Longueville was a branch of the Royal House of France, 
descended from the celebrated Comte de Dunois the " Bastard of Orleans " son of 
Louis I., Due d'Orleans. His nephew, Charles VII., gave him, in 1463, the county 
of Longueville, in the district of Caux, which had been ceded to Charles VI. by 
Bertrand du Guesclin, half a century earlier. Dunois's grandson, Frangois, was 
created a duke in 1505, and, in 1571, his successor, Leonor, brother to the second 
Princesse de Conde, received from Charles IX., for himself and his descendants, the 
title of Princes of the Blood. 


an alliance with the Guises had come to nothing ; and Charles 
IX., on her advice, not only expressed his approval of the 
marriage, but authorized its celebration at the Court, according 
to the rights of the Protestant religion, where it took place on 
5 November 1565. 

The new Princesse de Conde was in many ways an estimable 
young woman, and the marriage, which was to be cut short by 
the prince's tragic death three years later, appears to have been 
a happy one. She had, however, been very strictly brought 
up and was, moreover, of a decidedly jealous disposition, and 
she was determined not to permit the souvenirs of her husband 
to be dragged about France by his former mistresses. No 
sooner married, than, following the example of the Duchesse 
d'fetampes when she had supplanted Madame de Chateaubriand 
in the affections of Frangois I., she imperiously demanded of 
the prince that he should require Isabelle to restore all the 
presents that he had made her ; and Cond6, who was one of those 
men who are quite incapable of resisting the caprices of the 
preferred of the moment, was mean enough to obey. 

When the messenger sent by the prince informed Isabelle 
of the object of his visit, she flew into the most violent passion 
and made so terrible a scene that, had he not happened to be 
a Huguenot of a particularly inflexible type, he would doubtless 
have returned to Cond and reported the failure of his mission. 
As it was, he waited patiently until her fury had expended itself, 
and then repeated his request. The lady left the room and 
presently returned with a packet, in which she had placed all 
the jewels she had received from Conde and a portrait of the 
prince by a celebrated painter, the first token of his love that he 
had given her. Sitting down at the table, she placed the por- 
trait before her and decorated it with an enormous pair of horns ; 
and then contemptuously tossed it and the packet of jewels to 
the astonished messenger. " Take them, my friend," said she, 
" and carry them to your master ; I send him everything that he 
gave me. I have neither added nor taken away anything. Tell 
that beautiful princess, his wife, who has importuned him so 
much to demand from me what he gave me, that, if a certain 


nobleman mentioning him by name had treated her mother in 
the same way, and had claimed and taken away all that he had 
given her, she would be as poor in trinkets and jewels as any 
demoiselle of the Court. Well, let her make use of the paste 
and the baubles ; I leave them to her." 1 

It is to be hoped that Conde* had the grace to feel ashamed 
of himself when his messenger returned ; but since, in common 
with the majority of his contemporaries, he possessed a pretty 
thick skin, we are inclined to doubt whether such a reproof 
would have occasioned him more than a momentary vexation. 
Public opinion, we are told, however, judged him very severely, 
and declared that he had acted most ungenerously /'in having 
despoiled this poor lady, who had honestly earned such presents 
par la sueur de son corps'' a 

In one of his despatches, written soon after the rupture 
between the prince and Isabelle, Sir Thomas Smith announced 
that "the Prince de Conde had married la Limoel (sic) to a 
gentleman of his and given them 1 5,000 livres a year." 3 The 
Ambassador had been misinformed, for Isabelle was still single 
at the time, nor was this project, if it really existed, ever 
realized. The lady, however, notwithstanding the notoriety of 
her relations with Conde and the criminal charge which had 
been brought against her, was not long in finding a husband. 

There was at this time in Paris an Italian banker named 
Scipion Sardini, who, by the favour of Catherine de' Medici, who 
appears to have dipped pretty frequently into his purse, had 
contrived to amass an immense fortune, and " from a little 
sardine had grown into a big whale." He had recently acquired 
the estate and the beautiful chateau of Chaumont-sur-Loire and 
the title of baron to go with it, and desired to find a high-born 
damsel who would be willing to share his prosperity. Since 
however, high-born damsels were, for the most part, inclined to 
look askance at a suitor whose origin was shrouded in impene- 
trable obscurity, he cast his eyes in the direction of Isabelle, 

BrantSme. * Ibid. 

Smith to the Earl of Leicester, 5 May, 1565. State Papers (Elizabeth), Foreign 


who, he judged, could not afford to be so fastidious ; and laid 
his heart, his fortune, and his brand-new title at her feet. She 
condescended to accept them, and went to live at the sumptuous 
Hotel Sardini, situated in the Quartier Saint-Marcel, at the 
corner of the Rue de la Barre. The union was not an unquali- 
fied success, for Isabellas misfortunes had soured her temper, 
and the pretentious parvenu whom she had married had good 
reason to regret that he had not contented himself with a more 
amiable, if less aristocratic, consort. A great lady still, despite 
her lost reputation, she never forgave her husband his lowly 
origin, and permitted no opportunity to pass of allowing him 
to see how much she despised him ; and, whenever he had been 
so unfortunate as to displease her, which appears to have 
happened pretty frequently, she would remind the poor man of 
the honour which she, a woman of such noble birth, had done 
him in giving him her hand. To which Sardini would reply, 
not without reason : " I have done more for you ; I have dis- 
honoured myself in order to restore you your honour ! " Then 
Isabelle would hurl at him a perfect volley of invective, until, 
fearing that it might be followed by missiles of a more substan- 
tial kind, he would fly from her presence and take refuge in his 
own apartments. 

These perpetual quarrels, however, did not prevent this ill- 
assorted couple from having three children : two sons and a 
daughter, of whom the latter, Madeleine Sardini, is said to have 
inherited not a little of her mother's beauty. Unfortunately, 
she appears to have inherited her quarrelsome disposition as 
well, as did her brothers, for, after their parents' death, they 
went to law over the division of the Sardini fortune and pro- 
vided the gentlemen of the long robe with some very pretty 

We shall pass briefly over the last three years of Condi's 
eventful life. 

In September 1 567, civil war broke out again. The Protes- 
tants, alarmed and exasperated by the refusal of the Government 
to disband a force of 6000 Swiss mercenaries, which had been 


raised to protect the eastern frontier from any aggression on 
the part of the Spanish troops marching from Italy to the 
Netherlands, and by the rumour that this force was .to be used 
against them, rose in arms. An attempt was made by Conde 
and Coligny, at the head of a body of cavalry, to seize the 
person of the King, as he was on his way from Monceaux^ 
where he had intended to pass the autumn, to Paris. But 
Charles IX. had had time to summon the Swiss to his aid, 
and, the Huguenots not being in sufficient force to risk an 
engagement with these valiant mercenaries, who, "lowering 
their pikes, ran at them like mad dogs, at full speed," he reached 
his capital in safety. 

Conde followed, and, having been reinforced, occupied Saint- 
Denis and proceeded, with astonishing daring, to blockade Paris, 
although his army does not seem to have exceeded 6000 men 
and he was without a single piece of artillery ; while the 
Constable, with a vastly superior force, lay within the city. 
Montmorency, however, who always carried caution to excess, 
was disinclined to take the offensive, and it was not until the 
Huguenots had committed the mistake of detaching a consider- 
able part of their slender forces, under Andelot and Mont- 
gomery, to occupy Poissy and Pontoise that he ventured to 
offer battle. The royal army was 19,000 strong, that of Conde 
certainly did not exceed 3000 men ; but the prince had no 
thought of declining an engagement, and ranged his little force 
in the plain near Saint-Denis. The Catholic attack was repulsed 
all along the line, and then, while Coligny fell upon the Parisian 
militia, who, arrayed in all their martial finery "gilded like 
chalices," as a Huguenot historian puts it x formed the left 
wing of the Royalists, and drove them in headlong rout towards 
the city, Conde, with the bulk of the Huguenot horse, burst 
suddenly upon the centre, where the Constable commanded in 
person. So furious was his charge that the Catholic cavalry 
were broken and hurled back, and the Constable himself fell 
mortally wounded. "If the Grand Signior," exclaimed the 
Turkish Ambassador, who, from the heights of Montmartre, 

1 D'Aubigne. 


had witnessed the prince's onslaught, "if the Grand Signior 
had only two thousand men like those in white" the Huguenots 
wore white surcoats " to place at the head of each of his armies, 
in two years the world would be his ! " 

But a complete victory against such overwhelming odds 
would have been in the nature of a miracle. The main body 
of the Catholics was unbroken ; the Marchal de Montmorency, 
the Constable's eldest son, assumed the command and rallied 
the shattered squadrons ; and the Huguenots were being hard 
pressed on all sides, when the failing light came to their assistance 
and enabled them to fall back in tolerable order on Saint-Denis. 
The Royalists, disheartened by the fall of their leader, did not 
attempt to pursue, and, after occupying the field of battle for a 
few hours, in sign of victory, re-entered Paris. 

Conde's position being no longer tenable, he decided to lead 
his little army towards Lorraine, to join John Casimir, son of 
the Elector Palatine, who was advancing to his assistance with 
a strong force of German mercenaries. After a hazardous march, 
he crossed the Meuse in safety, and at Pont-a-Mousson effected 
his junction with the Germans. Having now once more a con- 
siderable army at his disposal, he turned again towards Paris, 
and, at the end of February 1658, laid siege to Chartres. 
Negotiations for peace had, however, already begun ; and a 
month later (23 March) the Peace of Longjumeau, which 
reaffirmed the Amboise Edict, put an end to the second war. 

It was merely a respite, for the Court had determined on the 
ruin of the Huguenots, and, at the end of August, orders were 
issued for the arrest of Conde and Coligny, who were at the 
former's chateau of Noyers, in Burgundy. Warned in time, 
they succeeded in effecting their escape with their families, 
traversed the whole breadth of France, and gained the sheltering 
walls of La Rochelle, where they were joined by Jeanne d'Albret, 
and her young son, Henri of Navarre. 1 

1 It was a perilous journey, for they were hotly pursued, and had not the Loire 
risen in sudden flood just after they had forded it near Sancerre, and arrested the 
pursuit, they would certainly have been captured. The fugitives saw in this event 
the direct interposition of Providence in their favour, and falling on their knees, sang, 
the Psalm : In exitu Israel, 


The third War of Religion began forthwith, and was con- 
ducted with pitiless cruelty on both sides. The results of the 
autumn campaign of 1568 were favourable to the Protestants, 
who mastered almost all the South and West. But, with the 
new year, their fortunes changed. In February, Conde and 
Coligny with the main Huguenot army marched eastwards to 
meet their German allies, who were advancing from the Rhine. 
Finding, however, that Tavannes, who directed the Catholics, 
under the name of the Due d'Anjou (afterwards Henri III.), had 
divined this movement and was preparing to oppose it, they 
turned to the South- West, with the intention of effecting their 
junction with the Huguenot forces from Quercy. Tavannes, 
however, outmarched them and barred their way, upon which 
they decided to turn to the North, seize one of the passages of 
the Loire, and join hands with the Germans. But Tavannes 
followed close on their heels, crossed the Charente by a stratagem, 
and fell upon the rearguard of the Huguenots, under Coligny, 
near Jarnac (13 March). 

On learning that the Admiral was attacked, Cond, who had 
left Jarnac with the main body of the army that morning, turned 
back at once, and, after sending orders to the rest of his troops 
to follow him with all speed, hastened to his assistance, at the 
head of three hundred horse. " For," says Le Noue, " he had 
the heart of a lion, and, whenever he heard that there was 
fighting, he longed to be in the thick of it." On the way, he 
was met by a messenger from Coligny, who had sent to beg him 
not to make a useless effort, and to retreat. " God forbid," he 
replied, "that Louis de Bourbon should turn his back to the 
enemy ! " And he hastened on. 

On his arrival on the field, he found Coligny struggling 
against almost the entire Catholic army, and in danger of being 
surrounded. An immediate retreat would have been the wisest 
course, but to this the prince refused to consent, and drawing 
up the cavalry in a long line, with himself and his little band in 
the centre, he prepared to charge the dense columns of the enemy. 
A day or two before, his left arm had been badly crushed by a 
fall from his horse, and, now as his helmet was being adjusted, 


his right leg was broken by a kick from the charger of his 
brother-in-law, the Comte de la Rochefoucauld. "You see," 
said he, mastering the pain, " that mettlesome horses are of 
more harm than use in an army." 

Those about him urged him to dismount, but he refused to 
leave the saddle, and, pointing first to his injured limbs and then 
to his standard, which bore the device : " Pro Christo et patrid 
duke periculum" he cried : " Nobles of France, behold the moment 
so long desired ! Remember in what plight Louis de Bourbon 
goes into battle for Christ and country ! " * 

Then, with his three hundred horse, he threw himself on the 
Catholic cavalry and drove them back in confusion on the 
" bataille? which the Due d'Anjou led in person. But the charges 
of Coligny on the right, and Montgommery on the left, failed 
completely, and the prince's little troop was soon assailed on 
all sides by overwhelming numbers. Conde's horse was killed 
under him, and, impeded by his injuries, he was unable to mount 
another. His followers gathered around him and fought on 
heroically, but one by one they were cut down. Among these 
devoted men, d'Aubigne tells us, was an aged gentleman named 
La Vergne, who had joined Cond^ accompanied by twenty-five 
of his sons, grandsons, and nephews. "He and fifteen of his 
relatives were left dead on the field, all in a heap." 

Soon Conde found himself almost alone, but, with his back 
to a tree and kneeling on one knee, he continued to defend 
himself. His strength, however, was failing fast, and perceiving 
two Catholic gentlemen, d'Argence and Saint-Jean, to whom 
he had once been of service, he called out to them, raised the 
vizor of his helmet, and handed them his gauntlets, in token of 
surrender. The two gentlemen sprang from their horses, and 
with several others formed a circle round Conde, promising to 
protect his life with their own. Scarcely, however, had they 
done so, when Anjou's guards passed by, and their captain, a 
very brave and honourable gentleman, called Montesquieu," 2 
learning the name of the prisoner, wheeled his horse round, 
galloped up to the group, and shouting : " Kill ! Mordieu ! Kill ! " 

1 D'Aubigne, Histoire universelle." * Brant6me. 


drew a pistol from his holster, and shot the prince through the 
head from behind, killing him instantly. 1 

Thus died " on the true bed of honour," as Jeanne d'Albret 
expresses it Louis I. de Bourbon, Prince de Cond6, a man 
typical of his age and of his country, alike in his faults and his 
good qualities. If the former were, as we have seen, many and 
glaring, the latter were no less conspicuous. " In courage and 
in courtesy," writes La Noue, " no one surpassed him. His con- 
versation was eloquent, rather from nature than from culti- 
vation ; he was generous and affable towards all ; he was an 
excellent leader in war, yet, at the same time, a lover of 
peace. In adversity he bore himself even better than in 

The battle of Jarnac was little more than a skirmish, for the 
greater part of the Protestant army had not been engaged at 
all, and its losses, except among the cavalry, were inconsider- 
able. The death of Conde, however, created a profound impres- 
sion. The Catholic chiefs fondly imagined that, with his fall, 
the Huguenots would cease to be formidable, and^ their joy, in 
consequence, was extreme. A solemn Te Deum was chanted 
at the Court and in every church in France; thanksgiving 
processions took place at Brussels and Venice, and the captured 
standards were sent to Rome, to be hung in St. Peter's as a 
perpetual memorial. 

By the orders of the detestable Anjou, the body of the 
murdered prince was treated with the most shameful indignity. 
" The same night that the battle was fought, the Due d'Anjou, 
pursuing the enemy, victoriously entered into Jarnac, whither 
the body of the prince was carried in triumph on the back of a 
miserable ass, to the infinite joy and diversion of the whole 
army, which made a joke of this spectacle, though, while he 
lived, they were terrified at the name .of so great a man." a 
For two whole days it lay exposed to the effects of the air and 

1 By the orders of his master, it was generally believed. "He (Conde)," writes 
Brant 6me, "had been very earnestly recommended to several of the favourites of the 
said Monseigneur (Anjou) whom I knew." 

8 Davila, cited by Mr. A. W. Whitehead, " Gaspard de Coligny." 


the vulgar insults of Anjou and his creatures, and was then 
handed over to Conde's brother-in-law, the Due de Longueville, 
who caused it to be interred in the ancestral vault at 
Vendome. 1 

1 Due d'Aumale, " Histoire des Princes de Conde." 


Henri I. de Bourbon, Prince de Conde* His personal appearance and 
character Jeanne d'Albret presents Henri of Navarre and Cond^ to the 
army The " Admiral's pages" The "Journey of the Princes" Battle of 
Arnay-le-Duc Condd at La Rochelle Henri of Navarre is betrothed to 
Marguerite de Valois, and Conde* to Marie de Cleves An awkward lover 
Marriage of Condd Massacre of Saint-Bartholomew The King of Navarre 
and Conde are ordered to abjure their religion Firmness of the latter, who, 
however, at length yields Humiliating position of Conde* Intrigue between 
his wife and the Due d'Anjou Conde" at the siege of La Rochelle Anjou 
elected King of Poland He offers the hand of his discarded mistress, 
Mile, de Chateauneuf, to Nantouillet, provost of Paris Unpleasant conse- 
quences of the provost's refusal of this honour. 

BY his two marriages, Louis I., Prince de Conde, had had 
eleven children, of whom seven six sons and a 
daughter survived him. 1 The eldest son, Henri de 
Bourbon, was at this time in his seventeenth year. In appear- 
ance, he was very short, like his father, and very slightly built, 
with a countenance which betokened an extremely sensitive 
nature, a nervous and delicate constitution : a high forehead, 
large, expressive blue eyes, a long face, a long, straight nose, 
and thin lips. In character, save in the matter of physical 

1 The surviving children by his marriage with feleonore de Roye were : 

(1) Henri de Bourbon, Prince de Conde ; born 27 December, 1552 ; died 5 March, 

(2) Francois de Bourbon, Prince de Conti, born 18 August, 1558. 

(3) Catherine de Bourbon. 

(4) Charles de Bourbon, afterwards the third Cardinal de Bourbon, born 30 March, 

Those by his marriage with Fran9oise d'Orle'ans were : 

(1) Charles de Bourbon, Comte de Soissons, born 3 November, 1566. 

(2) Louis de Bourbon. 

(3) Benjamin de Bourbon. 

Both of the two last children died young. 



courage, the new head of the House of Conde had little in 
common with his predecessor. Nor is this surprising, since few 
princes have passed a more gloomy boyhood. The constant 
companion of his mother during the last sad years of Her life, 
he had shared with her the hardships and dangers of the civil 
war, and had been shut up in Orleans, amid the horrors of that 
terrible siege. Returning home, he had seen the poor princess, 
" to whom he had plighted his boundless reverence and love," l 
slowly languish away before his eyes, worn out by sickness and 
sorrow. Then had come Conde's second marriage, and the lad 
had been left to the care of bigoted divines, who had brought 
him up in the strictest tenets of the Calvinistic faith. Finally, 
scarcely had he been summoned to take his place by his father's 
side, than that father had been foully slain. Thus, at the age of 
sixteen, Henri de Bourbon had experienced little of life but its 
sorrows, and was a thoughtful, grave, and almost melancholy 
youth, without any of those social qualities which had made his 
father so popular, but very superior to him in the earnestness of 
his religious convictions, and ready, as we shall see hereafter, to 
suffer for the truth in circumstances which overcame the courage 
and constancy of some even of the boldest 

On the day of Jarnac, the young prince and his cousin, 
Henri of Navarre, had been with the Protestant army. But 
they had not been permitted to take any part in the engage- 
ment, and had been ordered to retire to Saintes, where they 
were joined by Jeanne d'Albret, who at the first news of the 
defeat had left La Rochelle. Taking the two lads with her, the 
indomitable Queen of Navarre hastened to the Huguenot camp 
at Tonnay-Charente, and, in an'eloquent speech, presented them 
to the troops, and made each of them swear " on his honour, 
soul, and life" never to abandon the cause. The army 
received them with acclamations, and the young Prince of Beam 
was forthwith chosen as its leader ; while, as a mark of its 
respect and gratitude for the hero whom it had lost, the new 
Prince de Conde was associated with him in command. 

For more than two years the double signature, " Henry, 

1 Comte Jules Delaborde, " leonore de Roye, Princesse de Conde." 


Henry de Bourbon," appeared at the foot of the official 
documents of the Reformed party. 1 But, though always 
accompanied by the two young princes, and nominally acting 
as their lieutenant and counsellor, Coligny had henceforward 
the undivided command of the Huguenot army, as well as the 
principal voice in determining the policy of his party ; and, by 
the camp-fire, the lads were commonly referred to as " the 
Admiral's pages." 

The young Bearnais, with his good-humoured, sunburned 
face, his broad shoulders, and his wiry frame strengthened and 
developed by the manly, outdoor life which he had led amid 
the keen and bracing air of the Pyrenees, presented a singular 
contrast to his slight, delicate-looking, grave cousin. The 
Queen of Navarre had charged him to love Cond6 as a brother 
and "cultivate with him an affection cemented by the ties of 
blood and religion which should never be severed." But, though 
the prince, ever a dutiful son, seems to have made some effort 
to follow her instructions, and though, during the remainder of 
the Queen's life, an appearance of close intimacy was strictly 
maintained between the cousins, their characters and tastes 
were far too dissimilar for much sympathy to have existed 
between them, and, in later years, their relations became at 
times very strained indeed. 

The summer and autumn of 1569 were disastrous to the 
Protestant cause. Although, owing to the jealousy between 
the Court generals, in May, the Duke of Zweibriicken's German 
mercenaries were able to cross the Loire and join the main 
Huguenot army, the combined forces effected comparatively 
little, and at the beginning of October they experienced a 
crushing defeat in the bloody battle of Moncontour. 

If the Royalists had followed up their success, this might 
have proved a fatal blow to the Protestants ; but Charles 
IX,, jealous of the success of Anjou, the nominal commander 
at Moncontour, himself took command of the army, and 
frittered its strength away in besieging Saint- Jean-d'Angely, 
thus giving the Huguenots time to reorganize their forces. 

1 Due d'Awnale, "Histoire des Princes de Conde." 


Always greatest in adversity, Coligny, taking with him Henry 
of Navarre and the young Conde, started southwards from 
Parthenay (6 October), on that wonderful march afterwards 
known as the " Journey of the Princes." A month later saw him 
at Montauban, where he stayed for a while to rest his troops, and 
then, crossing the Garonne, he mercilessly ravaged the country 
south of that river. Recrossing to the north bank, where he 
was joined by Montgommery with reinforcements, he swept 
down on Toulouse, burned the country houses of the members 
of the Parlement in revenge for the judicial murder of one of 
the late Prince de Conde's gentlemen two years before, passed 
by the walls of Carcassonne and Montpellier, and entered 
Nimes. Here he turned to the North, and marched through 
Dauphine and the Lyonnais to the very heart of France, 
carrying terror and devastation wherever he went. 

Meanwhile, a Catholic force under the Marechal de Cosse 
had gathered in the Orleannais and marched eastwards to 
intercept his advance. At Arnay-le-Duc, on 26 June 1570, 
the two armies met. The Royalists outnumbered their 
adversaries by more than two to one, and were well provided 
with artillery, whereas the Huguenots had not a single gun. 
But Coligny took up a masterly position, which prevented the 
enemy either from employing their cannon or from outflanking 
him, and drove them back with heavy loss. 

It was in this engagement that the two young princes 
received their "baptism of fire." Hitherto, notwithstanding 
their urgent entreaties, Coligny had refused to allow them to 
expose themselves. Thus, though they had been with the army 
at Moncontour, they had been ordered to the rear before the 
battle actually began, accompanied by so large an escort that, 
according to d'Aubigne, the Huguenot forces were thereby 
seriously weakened. On the present occasion, however, Coligny's 
position was too critical for him to spare an escort, and Henri of 
Navarre was accordingly given the nominal command of the 
first line of cavalry, while Conde was at the head of the second. 
Both took part in several charges, and gave abundant proof that 
they had inherited the bravery of their warlike ancestors. 


The victory of Arnay-le-Duc, following closely as it did on 
a series of Huguenot successes in the West of France, had 
mportant consequences. The miserable condition of the 
country, the exhausted finances, the enmity between the 
Montmorency and Lorraine factions of the Catholic party, 
the jealousy between Charles IX. and Anjou, and the fear of 
active intervention by England, had all combined to persuade 
Catherine that it was impossible to carry on the war much 
longer ; and she now decided that peace must be made with as 
little delay as possible. Pius V. and Philip II. made every 
effort to dissuade her, the former warning her that " there could 
be no communion between Satan and the sons of light ; " but 
their remonstrances were unheeded, and on 8 August, the Peace 
of Saint-Germain put an end to the war, and accorded the 
Protestants infinitely greater concessions than any which they 
had yet obtained. 1 

The two years which followed " la palx boiteuse et malassise? a 
as the Peace of Saint-Germain was wittily called, were passed 
by Conde chiefly at La Rochelle, which had now become the 
headquarters of the Huguenots, and was one of the four towns 
which they were permitted to hold as security for the strict 
observance of the edict. The religious earnestness and gravity 
so far beyond his years which the young prince showed had 
gained him the entire confidence of Coligny, who had decided 
to delegate to him the direction of the Protestants of the West ; 
and it was Conde who, in the Admiral's absence, executed his 
orders in Poitou and Saintonge and kept him informed of all 
that was passing there. 

1 They received a general amnesty and the restoration of their confiscated estates. 
They were admitted upon equal terms with their Roman Catholic fellow-subjects to 
the benefit of all public institutions, and declared eligible to fill every post in the 
State. They were permitted to appeal from the judgment of the notoriously hostile 
Parlement of Toulouse to the Cour des Requetes, in Paris. Finally, they were 
permitted to retain possession of four towns which they had conquered : La Rochelle, 
Cognac, La Charite, and Montauban, as a guarantee of the King's good faith, on 
condition that Henri of Navarre and Conde bound themselves to restore them to the 
Crown two years after the faithful execution of the Peace. 

2 From the two royal plenipotentiaries who concluded it, the Marechal de Biron, 
who was lame, and Henri de Mesmes, Sieur de Malassise. 


During the greater part of the year 1571, Jeanne d'Albret 
and Henri of Navarre were also at La Rochelle. If Conde had 
little affection for his cousin, to his aunt he was warmly 
attached, while she, on her side, seems to have looked upon 
him almost as a second son. As for his step-mother, the 
dowager-princess, his feelings towards her were the reverse of 
cordial. Not only had she never shown him any sympathy or 
affection, but, having recently abandoned the Reformed faith 
herself, she had surrendered her sons and stepsons to their 
uncle, the Cardinal de Bourbon, to be brought up in the 
Catholic religion. Her conduct, which was denounced by the 
Huguenots as an act of infamous treachery to her dead 
husband, had naturally occasioned Conde the most intense 
indignation, but, since it had occurred during the war, he had, 
of course, been powerless to interfere. 

In order to flatter the Huguenots and allay their suspicions, 
while, at the same time, weakening their power of offence, by 
bringing their nominal chief directly under her own influence, 
Catherine de' Medici was now anxious to arrange a marriage 
between her only unmarried daughter, Marguerite de Valois, 
and Henri of Navarre ; and from the beginning of 1571 active 
negotiations were carried on between the Court and La 
Rochelle, and Biron, Cosse, and Castelnau were in turn 
despatched thither to confer with Jeanne d'Albret and the 
Protestant leaders. Jeanne received the overtures of the Court 
with mixed feelings. She was intensely ambitious for her 
idolized son and desirous of doing everything in her power to 
promote the interests of her party. But she hated Catherine 
and all the Valois, and entertained the most profound distrust 
of their professions of friendship ; and, had the decision rested 
with her alone, the proffered alliance would most certainly have 
been rejected. However, the Huguenot leaders were practically 
unanimous in urging her to consent ; the nobility of her own 
little kingdom likewise pronounced for the marriage; and 
Henri himself added his persuasions to theirs. And so, with a 
very bad grace, the Queen yielded, and early in January, 1572, 
left Pau for Blois, to settle the preliminaries with Catherine. 


The negotiations for the marriage of Henri of Navarre had 
been preceded by the arrangement by Jeanne d'Albret of a 
very advantageous match for the young Prince de Conde\ The 
wife selected for him was his cousin, Marie de Cleves, Marquise 
d' Isles, the youngest of the three daughters of Frangois de 
Cleves, Due de Nevers, and Marguerite de Bourbon. 1 Marie de 
Cleves was not only a great heiress, but an extremely beautiful 
girl, and Conde considered himself a very fortunate young man. 
He had reason to think differently, however, before he had 
been married many weeks. 

Conde" and his bride-elect were both at Blois when the 
Queen of Navarre arrived there. It was some years since 
Jeanne had passed any time at the Court, and it had changed 
very much for the worse in the interval. In a letter to her son, 
she stigmatizes it, with good reason, as " the most vicious and 
corrupt society that ever existed." " No one that I see here," 
she writes, "is exempt from its evil influences. Your cousin, 
the marchioness, 2 is so greatly changed that she gives no sign 
of belonging to the Religion, if it be not that she abstains from 
attending Mass ; for, in all else, save that she abstains from 
this idolatry, she conducts herself like other Papists, and my 
sister Madame la Princesse 3 sets an even worse example. This 
I write to you in confidence. The bearer of this letter will tell 
you how the King emancipates himself; it is a pity. I would 
not for any consideration that you should abide here. For 
this reason, I desire to see you married, that you and your wife 

1 The three girls were co-heiresses to the great wealth of the Due de Nevers, as 
he had left no son. The eldest, Henriette, Duchesse de Nivernais, married Ludovico 
di Gonzaga, brother of the Duke of Mantua ; the second, Catherine, married Antoine 
de Croy, Prince de Porcien, who died in 1564; and, six years after her husband's 
death, became the wife of Henri de Lorraine, Due de Guise. The Prince de Porcien 
had been one of the leaders of the Huguenots and had entertained the most violent 
hatred of the Guises. On his death-bed, he is said to have thus addressed his wife : 
" You are young, beautiful, and wealthy ; you will have many suitors when I am 
gone. I have no objection to your marrying again, if only it be not the Due de 
Guise. Let not my worst enemy inherit what of all my possessions I have cherished 
the most." 

4 Marie de Cleves, Marquise d'Isles, Conde's betrothed. 

* Fran$oise d'Orleans, Princesse de Conde. 


may withdraw yourselves from this corruption ; for, although I 
believed it to be very great, it surpasses my anticipation. 
Here, it is not the men who solicit the women, but the women 
the men. If you were here, you would never escape, save by 
some remarkable mercy of God." 

Although Jeanne strenuously resisted all attempts of the 
King and Catherine to draw her son to Blois, she felt perfectly 
at ease in regard to Conde's presence there, for the young 
prince's Calvinism was of that rigid type which made no 
distinction between pleasure and vice, and, unlike his cousin, he 
had never shown any inclination for feminine society. He had, 
nevertheless, quickly succumbed to the charms of his beautiful 
fiancee, though his awkward attempts at love-making must have 
aroused no small amount of amusement; for the Queen of 
Navarre wrote to her son that " if he could not make love with 
better grace than his cousin, she counselled him to leave the 
matter alone." 

The marriage of Conde" and Marie de Cleves took place on 
10 August, 1572, at the Chateau of Blandy, near Melun, the 
seat of the Marquise de Rothelin, mother of the Dowager- 
Princesse de Conde, in the presence of Charles IX., Henri of 
Navarre, his fiancte Marguerite de Valois, the two queens, 
Catherine de' Medici and Elizabeth of Austria, and a great 
number of noblemen of both religions ; and was celebrated 
" tout-a-fait d la Huguenote" For the Reformers, however, 
it seemed to take place under somewhat mournful auspices, 
since she who had planned it was no more. Jeanne d'Albret 
had arrived in Paris in the last week in May ; on 4 June she 
was taken ill, and on the 9th she died, at the age of forty-four. 
Sinister rumour were circulated concerning her death, and it 
was asserted that the Queen-Mother had caused her to be 
poisoned. But, as we have pointed out in a previous work, 
there can be no question that Jeanne's health had been 
gradually failing for some time past, and the most trustworthy 
evidence goes to indicate that she died a natural death. 1 

1 Seethe author's "Queen Margot" (London, Harpers ; New York, Scribner, 


Immediately after the marriage, Condd and his bride came 
to Paris for the marriage of the young King of Navarre, which 
was celebrated with the utmost magnificence on Monday, 
1 8 August. But the wedding festivities were of very brief 
duration ; for on the Friday came the attempted assassination 
of Coligny, and on the Sunday the terrible Massacre of 
St. Bartholomew, to which Catherine had been driven by the 
failure of the lesser crime. 

Very early in the morning the massacre had begun about 
two hours after midnight by the murder of Coligny at his 
lodging in the Rue des Foss6s-Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois the 
King of Navarre and Conde, who were both lodged with their 
brides in the Louvre, were arrested and conducted to Charles 
IX.'s cabinet. " Take that canaille away ! " cried Charles, 
pointing to the attendants of Navarre, who had been appre- 
hended with their master ; and the hapless gentlemen were 
led out and mercilessly butchered in the courtyard of the palace. 
Then the half-mad King, who was beside himself with passion, 
informed the princes that all that was being done was by his 
orders ; that they had allowed themselves to be made the 
leaders of his enemies, and that their lives were justly forfeited. 
As, however, they were his kinsmen and connections, he would 
pardon them, if they conformed to the religion of their 
ancestors, the only one he would henceforth tolerate in his 
realm. If not, they must prepare to share the fate of their 

Navarre, of a more politic and wary disposition than his 
cousin, and, besides, somewhat indifferent on the subject of 
religion, assumed a conciliatory tone, begging the King not to 
compel him to outrage his conscience, and to consider that he 
was now not only his kinsman, but closely connected with him by 
marriage. Conde*, on the other hand, courageously replied that 
he refused to believe the King capable of violating his most 
sacred pledges, but that he was accountable for his religion to 
God alone, and would remain faithful to it, even if it cost him 
his life. " Madman ! conspirator ! rebel ! son of a rebel ! " 
cried the infuriated monarch. " If in three days you do not 


change your tone, I will have you strangled ! " And he 
dismissed them from his presence, with directions that they 
should be most strictly guarded. 

The conversion of the two princes greatly occupied the 
Court. The young Queen of Navarre, a fervent Catholic, 
spared no effort to persuade her husband to return to the fold 
of the Church, and found zealous auxiliaries in the Cardinal de 
Bourbon, the Queen's confessor the Jesuit Maldonato, and 
Sureau des Roziers, an ex-Huguenot pastor, who had been 
converted to Catholicism by the sound of arquebuses. The 
astute Bearnais, who already seems to have had some presenti- 
ment of the part he was one day to play, was not the man to 
sacrifice a great future to his attachment to the Reformed 
doctrines, and accordingly feigned to lend an attentive ear to 
the arguments of his teachers. 

Conde was the object of like solicitation, to which, however, 
he replied with anger and contempt. His obstinacy so enraged 
the King that one day, when he learned that the prince had 
proved more than usually contumacious, he called for his arms, 
swearing that he would proceed to his cousin's apartments, at 
the head of his guards, and slay him with his own hand. 
Probably, he only intended to intimidate him into submission ; 
but his queen, the gentle and pious Elizabeth of Austria, 
believing that he was in earnest, threw herself at his feet, and 
besought him not to stain his hands with his kinsman's 
blood. His Majesty yielded to her entreaties and contented 
himself with summoning Conde to his presence, and, when he 
appeared, shouting in a voice of thunder : " Mass, death, or 
Bastille ! Choose ! " " God allows me not, my lord and king," 
replied the prince quietly, " to choose the first. Of the others, 
be it at your pleasure, whichever God may in His providence 
direct ! " 

Despite this bold answer, he shortly afterwards consented 
to abjure, "laying upon the head of Des Roziers the risk of 
his damnation " ; the King of Navarre did likewise ; and on 
3 October, the "converted" princes addressed to the Pope a 
very humble letter, begging him to accept their submission and 


admit them into the fold. Conde and Marie de Cleves also 
expressed their regret for having allowed themselves to be 
united in wedlock without the rites of Holy Church. 

Gregory XIII., who had just caused a medal to be struck 
with his own portrait on one side, and, on the other, a destroy- 
ing angel immolating the Huguenots, was graciously pleased to 
accord the petition of the young couple, and granted them 
absolution and dispensation, in virtue of which they were 
married again, this time according to the Catholic ritual, in the 
Church of Saint-Germain-des-Pre's (December, 1 572). 

Notwithstanding their abjuration, the King of Navarre and 
Conde were still regarded with suspicion and remained in a sort 
of quasi-captivity. Their position was a difficult one, and it 
must have needed all their self-control to prevent them from 
openly resenting the sneers and taunts which the nobles of the 
Court felt themselves safe in levelling at them. "On All 
Hallows' Eve," writes L'Estoile, "the King of Navarre was 
playing tennis with the Due de Guise, when the scant considera- 
tion which was shown this little prisoner of a kinglet, at whom 
he threw all kinds of jests and taunts, deeply pained a number 
of honest people who were watching them play." l 

The " kinglet," however, knew how to accommodate himself 
to circumstances, and was often able to turn the laugh on his 
own side by some lively repartee. After a while, too, Charles 
IX., who had always entertained a strong liking for Henri, 
began to treat him with kindness and even affection, in 
consequence of which even the Guises felt obliged to show him 
a certain degree of deference. 

With Conde", however, it was very different. To one of his 
austere nature, this Court, which had degenerated to such an 
appalling extent, owing to the corruption of morals produced 
by the civil wars, that vice had become the mode, and virtue, 
even ordinary decency, was mocked at and derided, must have 
seemed the very anti-chamber of hell ; and he was at no pains 
to conceal the disgust with which it inspired him. The King of 
Navarre might drink and gamble with the murderers of his 

1 " Journal du rgne de Charles IX." 




faithful followers, and make love to the high-born courtesans 
who had passed obscene jests on the stripped corpses of the 
Huguenot nobles as they lay in the courtyard of the Louvre on 
that terrible morning. Policy required, he said, that he and his 
cousin should dissimulate their feelings. Well, let him do it ! 
For himself, he would have no dealings with them, beyond that 
which ordinary courtesy demanded. And so he stood aloof, a 
gloomy, silent figure an object of suspicion, dislike and deri- 
sion to King and courtiers alike with none to sympathize or 
condole with him in his loneliness and humiliation. 

For even his wife had failed him. She was but a giddy 
butterfly, who, though educated in the Reformed Faith, had 
never professed any attachment for it, and had forsaken it with- 
out a regret. As for her husband, she appears to have married 
him merely because he happened to be the best match which 
offered itself, and because her relatives desired it. His sombre 
nature, embittered by the new trials to which he was being 
subjected, was but little to her taste, and she infinitely preferred 
the society of the Due d'Anjou, who had conceived for her a 
most violent passion. 

If we are to believe Brantome, this affair had begun some 
few months before the lady's marriage to Conde*, and Anjou 
had not been permitted to sigh in vain. "This same prince 
[Anjou]," he writes, " aware that she [Marie de Cleves] was 
about to marry a prince [Conde"] who had displeased him and 
very much troubled the State of his ^brother [Charles IX.], 
debauched her . . . and then, in two months' time, she was 
given to the aforesaid prince [Conde] to wife, as a pretended 
virgin, which was a very sweet revenge." 

We can well believe that the seduction of the promised wife 
of an enemy would have been just the kind of exploit to appeal 
to the future Henri III. ; but Brantome is too incorrigible a 
scandalmonger for much reliance to be placed on his un- 
supported testimony. However, that may be, Anjou's admira- 
tion for Marie de Cleves was now the talk of the Court, and 
the poet Philippe Desportes, who prostituted his muse to the 
services of the last Valois, as we shall see Malherbe, at a later 


date, minister to the amorous fancies of Henri IV., hastened to 
immortalize the affair in verse, and composed an elegy, in which 
the lovers figured under the names of Eurylas and Olympias, 
and the jealousy of the husband was unmercifully ridiculed. 

Anjou was already provided with a mistress in the person 
of one of Catherine's maids-of-honour, Renee de Rieux, 
demoiselle de Chateauneuf called la belle Chateauneuf a 
ravishing blonde of twenty summers, with wonderful blue eyes, 
a complexion of lilies and roses, and " hair which looked like a 
crown of gold." She passed for the most perfect beauty of the 
Court, and one could pay a lady no higher compliment than to 
say that she resembled her. 1 

Mile, de Chateauneuf was so proud of the distinction which 
his Royal Highness had conferred upon her that she was 
prepared to make any sacrifice rather than lose him. Anjou 
already showed a marked taste for the ornaments and dress 
proper to the other sex a caprice which he carried to the most 
extravagant lengths when he became King of France 3 and 
wore habitually "a double row of rings on his fingers and 
pendants in his ears." In the hope of retaining his wayward 
affections, the poor lady ruined herself in jewellery, and covered 
her royal lover with gold chains and costly trinkets of every 
description. He accepted them all with alacrity ; nevertheless, 
the star of la belle Chateauneuf paled before that of the 
Princesse de Conde and she suffered the fate which had befallen 
Isabelle de Limeuil. She was not called upon to restore the 
presents which Anjou had made her she had given far more 
than she had ever received but, on the other hand, she had the 
mortification of seeing those which she had made the prince 
decorating the person of her triumphant rival. "In order to 

1 It is to her that Baif dedicated his " Hymne de Venus " : 

"Noble sang des Rieux, si mes vers ne desdaigne. ..." 

2 After he succeeded his brother on the throne, he appeared, on one occasion at a 
Court ball, his face rouged and powdered, the body of his doublet cut low, like a 
woman's, with long sleeves falling to the ground, and a string of pearls round his 

" Si qu'au premier abord, chacun etoit en peine 
S'il voyoit un roi femme ou bien un homme reine." 


show," writes Brantome, " that he had abandoned his former 
mistress for her [the Princesse de Conde], and that he desired to 
honour and serve her entirely, without bestowing a thought on 
the other, he gave her all the favours, jewels, rings, portraits, 
bracelets, and pretty conceits of every kind which his former 
mistress had given him, which being perceived by her, she was 
like to die with mortification, and was unable to keep silence 
about it, but was contented to compromise the reputation of the 
other by compromising her own." 

The amours of Anjou and Marie de Cloves were interrupted 
by the outbreak of the fourth civil war. For a moment, 
Catherine had deluded herself into the belief that the Huguenot 
party was expiring at her feet, but she soon learned that 
religions do not die beneath the knives of assassins. Coligny, 
La Rochefoucauld, Soubise, Pilles, and other aristocratic leaders 
had perished in the St. Bartholomew ; Navarre and Conde had 
been constrained to renounce their faith ; Montgommery and La 
Noue were in exile ; the Protestant noblesse was disheartened 
and disorganized by the loss of its chiefs. But the popular 
element in the Reform party saved it, and raised the banner 
which was falling from the hands of the nobility. The citizens 
of La Rochelle, Montauban and Sancerre continued the struggle 
which the Bourbons and Chatillons had begun, demanding not 
only religious toleration, but the redress of political grievances ; 
and other towns in the South and West followed their 

The Government determined on the reduction of La 
Rochelle, and a formidable army was despatched thither, under 
the command of Anjou ; and the " converted " Bourbons were 
ordered to accompany it. The unhappy Conde must have felt 
that his cup of humiliation was indeed filled to overflowing when 
he found himself marching against the stronghold of Protes- 
tantism against those brave citizens amongst whom he counted 
so many personal friends beneath the banner of the man who, 
after causing his father to be murdered, had robbed him of the 
affection of his wife. When the siege began, he courted danger 
with the eagerness of a man weary of life ; but, as not infrequently 


happens in such circumstances, the balls passed him by, and, 
though men fell fast around him, he himself remained 

La Rochelle offered an heroic resistance, and at the end of 
four months the royal army had lost nearly 20,000 men, in- 
cluding the Due d'Aumale, and was no nearer success than when 
the trenches were opened. In the meanwhile, Anjou, thanks to 
the dexterity of his mother's diplomatic agents, had been elected 
King of Poland ; and, on the pretext that it was undesirable 
that the Polish Ambassadors should find him engaged in 
besieging a Protestant town, acceptable terms were offered to 
the Rochellois, and the siege was raised. A month later (July, 
1 573X the Edict of Boulogne granted the Huguenots even 
better terms than had been promised them by the Peace of 

The new King of Poland seemed in no hurry to take 
possession of his throne, and manifested very little enthusiasm 
for what he regarded as a kind of exile, far removed from the 
Court of the Valois and the pleasures which he held so dear. 
He had become so desperately enamoured of the Princesse de 
Cond6 that the prospect of parting from her was extremely dis- 
tasteful to him, and he also feared, that, in the event of the 
death of Charles IX. the unhappy King, who had been a 
changed man since the St. Bartholomew, was now in consumption, 
and it was obvious that he had not long to live his absence 
might result in his younger brother, Frangois, Due d'Alengon, 
seizing the throne. These considerations led him to linger in 
Paris until the end of September; and it was only when the 
King informed him that, " if he did not go of his own free will, 
he would make him go by force," that he took his departure. 

Before leaving Paris, his Polish Majesty, smitten perhaps by 
compunction for the shabby way in which he had treated Mile, 
de Chateauneuf, sought to make amends by providing her with 
a husband. In this intention, he cast his eyes upon a very 
wealthy citizen, Duprat de Nantouillet, provost of Paris. The 
provost, however, showed himself very little flattered by the 
rdle proposed to him and peremptorily declined the lady's hand. 


Transported with rage, the prince determined to be revenged, 
and, having taken counsel with Charles IX. and the King of 
Navarre, sent word to Nantouillet that they were all three 
coming to sup with him, and proceeded to his house, accompanied 
by a band of courtiers. Their visit occurred at a most incon- 
venient moment for the worthy provost, who happened to have 
selected that very day to pay off a little score of his own against 
some rival in love or politics, for which purpose he had concealed 
four bravos in his house. However, he put the best face on the 
matter he could, and provided his uninvited guests with a most 
sumptuous repast, which had such an exhilarating effect upon 
some of the company, that they finished up the evening by 
breaking open their host's coffers, and carrying off all his silver 
plate and about 50,000 livres in money. 

Next morning, Christophe de Thou, First President of the 
Parlement of Paris, requested an audience of Charles IX. and 
told him that this nocturnal escapade had excited the greatest 
indignation in the city. His Majesty swore that he had had 
nothing whatever to do with it, and that it was a gross calumny 
to assert that he was responsible. " I am delighted to hear it," 
replied the magistrate, " and I am going to order an enquiry and 
punish the guilty." "No, no!" cried the King, " don't trouble 
yourself about this matter ; simply tell Nantouillet that, if he 
demands satisfaction for the loss he has suffered, he will get the 
worst of it." 

The unfortunate Nantouillet thereupon decided to put up 
with the loss of his plate and money, lest a worse fate should 
befall him. But his troubles were not yet over, for one day, 
while walking in the street, he happened to meet Mile, de 
Chateauneuf, on horseback. No sooner did the indignant beauty 
perceive the man who had dared to refuse her hand, than she 
rode up to him, and proceeded to belabour him soundly with 
her riding-whip, to the great amusement of the onlookers. 


Departure of Anjou for Poland Condd, compromised in the conspiracy 
of the " Politiques," escapes to Strasbourg, where he reverts to the Protestant 
faith Death of Charles IX., who is succeeded by the King of Poland 
Flight of the new King from Cracow Death of the Princesse de Conde" : 
extravagant grief of Henry III. Conde" invades France at the head of an 
army of German mercenaries The " Paix de Monsieur " Conde endeavours 
to establish himself in the West of France Formation of the League and 
renewal of the civil war Cond refuses the hand of Mile, de Vaude*mont, 
Henry III.'s sister-in-law His second Odyssey He commands the 
Huguenot forces in Poitou and Saintonge He proposes for the hand of 
Charlotte Catherine de la Trdmoille Letter of Mile, de la Tre*moille to the 
prince He visits her at the Chateau of Taillebourg Disastrous expedition 
of Conde" against Angers He is obliged to take refuge in Guernsey. 

THE Court escorted the King of Poland as far as La Fere, 
Cond6 accompanying it. On taking leave of the 
Prince, his Majesty informed him that he had obtained 
for him the restoration of his government of Picardy and per- 
mission to proceed thither whenever he wished. This pretended 
favour was really a precautionary measure, for fresh troubles 
were brewing, and Catherine desired to separate Conde and the 
King of Navarre, and deprive the latter, who was erroneously 
believed to be as vacillating as his father, of the support and 
advice of his kinsman. However, Conde" was well-pleased to 
turn his back on the Court, where he had suffered so many 
humiliations, and at the end of the autumn he set out for 

The Massacre of St. Bartholomew had been not only a crime, 
but a blunder of the most fatal kind. It had shocked and 
horrified the moderate Catholic party the " Politiques " as they 
had now begun to be called and convinced their leaders, the 
Montmorencies, that the Queen-Mother intended their ruin 

1 08 


after that of the Bourbons and the Chatillons. The result was 
a rapprochement between the " Politiques " and the Huguenots, 
which, by the beginning of 1574, had developed into a vast 
conspiracy enveloping nearly the whole of France. Its secret 
head was Catherine's youngest son, the ambitious and treacherous 
Frangois, Due d'Alengon, who had long chafed under the sub- 
jection to which his brother's dislike and his mother's indiffer- 
ence had relegated him, and was determined to assert himself 
at all hazards. 

The plans of the conspirators were carefully laid. At the 
end of February, risings were to take place simultaneously in 
Normandy, Picardy, Champagne, Poitou, Dauphine, Guienne, 
and Languedoc ; while a bold Huguenot chief, the Sieur de 
Guitry-Berticheres, with several hundred men, was to force the 
gates of the Chateau of Saint-Germain, where the Court was 
then residing, and carry off Alengon and the King of Navarre, 
who would at once put themselves at the head of the rebels. 

Unfortunately for them, Guitry's enterprise, on which the 
success of the whole movement hinged, failed through his own 
precipitation. Owing to some misunderstanding, he anticipated 
the day, and appeared with his men in the environs of Saint- 
Germain some time before he was expected. Catherine's 
suspicions were at once aroused, and her remarkable skill in 
unravelling the tangled threads of even the most complicated 
intrigues soon placed her in possession of the whole plot. In 
the early hours of the following morning (23-24 February), she 
hurried the Court off to Paris. Charles IX., travelling in a 
litter, surrounded by the Swiss in battle-array, as during the 
retreat from Meaux, while she herself followed in her coach 
with Navarre and Alen^on, whom she was determined not to 
allow out of her sight. 

Meanwhile, the rebels had risen in arms and issued a 
manifesto demanding various reforms, though it was obvious 
that these were only a cloak for their real intentions, and that, 
should the rising prove successful, its effect would be to deprive 
the King of Poland of the succession to the throne, which must 
speedily become vacant, in favour of the more accommodating 


Alengon. Catherine, however, invested with full powers by the 
illness of the King, took prompt and energetic measures to 
meet the danger. Three armies were despatched against the 
rebels of Normandy, the South, and Central France ; Navarre 
and Alencpn, who were found to be planning an attempt at 
escape, with the connivance of two of the latter's favourites, La 
Mole and Coconnas, were shut up in the keep of the Chateau of 
Vincennes, and a commission appointed to examine them ; 
while the two gentlemen were brought to trial on a charge of 
high treason, condemned and executed ; the Marechaux de 
Montmorency and de Coss6, who had had the temerity to come 
to Court to endeavour to justify their conduct, were seized and 
thrown into the Bastille, and orders were sent to Amiens for 
the arrest of Cond6. 

Conde had not yet been guilty of any overt act of rebellion ; 
but he had been compromised by the avowals of the pusil- 
lanimous Alengon, who had made a full confession, and also 
by those wrung from Coconnas in the anguish of torture. 1 
Warned in time, however, he succeeded in affecting his escape, 
and fled to Strasburg, where he lost no time in returning 
publicly to the faith from which in his heart he had never 
wavered. His wife, to whom he had been reconciled, and who 
was three months pregnant, he left behind him. They were 
never to meet again. 

On 31 May of that year, the unhappy Charles IX. expired, 
" rejoicing that he left no heir in such an age, since he knew of 
his own sad experience how wretched was the state of a child- 
king, and how wretched the kingdom over which a child ruled." 
On the previous day, he had publicly declared the King of Poland 
his lawful heir and successor, and his mother Regent until his 
return to France ; and Catherine wrote, urging her favourite son 
to return without delay and take possession of his birthright. 

1 The Ducd'Aumale (" Histoire des Princes de Conde ") asserts that he was also 
compromised by the confessions of La M&le, but, in justice to that unfortunate 
gentleman, we must observe that such was not the case. La Mole, though most 
horribly tortured, exhibited remarkable fortitude, and compromised no one, with the 
exception 1 of Guillaume de Montmorency, who had already compromised himself 
by taking to flight. 


The latter needed no pressing. Although he had only 
occupied the throne of Poland a few months, he was already 
heartily tired of his kingdom, both the people and the customs 
of which were utterly distasteful to one of his indolent and 
luxurious temperament ; and he was impatiently awaiting the 
event which should recall him to France and the Princesse de 
Conde. Absence, so far from diminishing, had only served to 
increase his devotion to that lady. " I love her so greatly, as 
you know," he wrote to one of his confidants at the Court, 
" that you must certainly inform me of everything that befalls 
her, for the sake of the tears that I shed for her. But I will 
speak no more of her, for love is intoxicated." And he 
employed a good part of his time in inditing to her passionate 
letters, written in his own royal blood ! 

So soon as the news of his brother's death reached him, he 
quitted his sombre palace at Cracow, secretly, in the middle of 
the night, accompanied by some of his French attendants, and 
rode without drawing rein until he reached the Moravian 
frontier, hotly pursued by his indignant subjects, who, singularly 
enough, had conceived for him a great affection, and wished to 
compel him to remain their ruler. The explanation he subse- 
quently condescended to give of this jescapade, was that the 
condition of France was so disturbed that even a week's 
delay might imperil his succession. Nevertheless, having 
once shaken the dust of his adopted country off his feet, he 
seemed in no hurry to return to his own ; he preferred to 
travel by way of Vienna and Turin, where he extravagantly 
rewarded the hospitality of the Duke of Savoy by the 
restoration of Pinerolo, the gate of Italy ; and it was not until 
the beginning of September that he turned his steps towards 

At Bourgoin, he was met by Catherine and the greater part 
of the Court. The Queen-Mother brought with her the King 
of Navarre and Alengon, whom she had set at liberty, having 
first extracted an oath from them that they would "neither 
attempt nor originate anything to the detriment of his 
Majesty the King and the state of his realm." They were 


still, however, kept under very close observation by her Majesty, 
and treated very much like naughty schoolboys. 

After a short stay at Bourgoin, the Court proceeded to Lyons, 
where it remained for several weeks, its sojourn being marked 
by splendid festivities. In the middle of October, a sad event 
came to interrupt these rejoicings : 'news arrived that, on the 
1 3th, the Princesse de Conde had died in Paris, in giving birth 
to a daughter. 1 

Brant6me assures us that Henri III. had fully resolved to 
petition the Pope to annul the marriage of Marie de Cleves and 
Cond6 " which he would not have refused, since he was so great 
a king, and for divers other reasons that one wots of " and to 
make the lady his queen ; and it would seem that the princess 
was not indisposed to such an arrangement. However that may 
be, his Majesty exhibited the most extravagant grief at the death 
of his inamorata. On opening the letter which contained the 
fatal news, he instantly fell down in a dead faint, and was carried 
to his apartments, which he caused to be draped in black velvet, 
and where he remained shut up for several days, for the first 
two of which he persistently refused to touch either food or 
wine. When he, at length, reappeared, he was clad in the 
deepest mourning, and the points of his doublet and even the 
ribbons of his shoes were garnished with little death's-heads. 
From that moment little death's-heads in gold, coral, or crystal 
became the trinket d la mode. 

From being the life and soul of every fete and pleasure-party, 
the grief-stricken King now plunged into the most extravagant 
devotion, and at Avignon, to which the Court had removed, 
with the idea of affording him some distraction from his sorrow, 
nothing would content him but to join the Flagellants, a sect 
very strong in the Papal city, who, dressed in sackcloth, nightly 
paraded the streets by torchlight, chanting the Miserere and 
scourging one another with whips. The Court and the Royal 
Family were compelled to follow suit ; and the Cardinal de 
Lorraine, unaccustomed to such mortification of the flesh, caught 
a chill which caused his death. 

1 Catherine de Bourbon, Marquise d'Isles, She died unmarried in 1592. 


Theatrical as was Henri III.'s grief it was, nevertheless, of 
a more durable nature than such exhibitions usually are ; and, 
some months later, the Cardinal de Bourbon was obliged to 
have the body of the Princesse de Conde* removed from the 
vaults of Saint-Germain-des-Pres, in which it had been tempo- 
rarily deposited, the King refusing to enter the abbey, as long 
as those precious remains were there. Even his marriage to the 
sweet and charming Louise de Lorraine, 1 which took place at 
Rheims, in February, I575, 2 three days after his Sacre, seems to 
have been a tribute to the memory of his lost love, for the young 
lady, whom he had met at Nancy, on his way to Poland in the 
autumn of 1573, had first attracted his attention by the resem- 
blance she bore to the Princesse de Conde. 

Cond6 was still a fugitive in Germany when the news of his 

1 Daughter of Nicolas, Comte de Vaudemont, and Marguerite d'Egmont. 

* It was on the occasion of his marriage that his Majesty made another attempt 
to provide Mile, de Ch&teauneuf with a husband. This time, however, he flew at 
much higher game than a provost of Paris,ihis vassal, Franois de Luxembourg, being 
his quarry. Luxembourg had been a suitor for the hand of Louise de Lorraine, and 
his addresses had been very favourably received by the lady, until the appearance of 
the King of France in the field had put an end to his hopes. The prince had attended 
the Sacre and the marriage, and, a day or two after the latter ceremony, his suzerain 
drew him aside and said : " Cousin, I have married your mistress ; but I desire that, 
in exchange, you should marry mine." And he offered him the hand of Mile, de 
Chateauneuf. Luxembourg, making, very naturally, a distinction between the two 
senses attached to the word " mistress," thanked the King for his thoughtfulness, 
but begged him to give him time to think the matter over. "I desire," replied his 
Majesty, " that you should espouse her immediately." The unfortunate prince then 
" begged very humbly that the King would grant him a week's respite." To which 
the King answered that he would give him three days only, at the expiration of 
which, if he were not prepared to marry the damsel, something exceedingly unpleasant 
would probably befall him. Before another day had dawned, Luxembourg was 
riding for the frontier as hard as his horse could gallop. 

Soon after this episode, Mile, de Chateauneuf was expelled both from Catherine's 
squadron and the Court, for impertinence towards the young Queen. Having thus 
fallen into disgrace, she condescended to espouse a Florentine named Antinoti, who 
was intendant of the galleys at Marseilles. The marriage, however, had a tragic 
termination, for, "having detected him in a compromising situation with another 
demoiselle, she stabbed him bravely and manfully with her own hand." Shortly 
afterwards, she married another Florentine, Alloviti by name, who called himself 
the Baron de Castellane ; but, a few months later, the baron was killed in a brawl 
by Henri d'Angouleme, Grand Prior of France, a natural son of Henri II., by Mary 
Stuart's governess, Lady Fleming, though not before he had succeeded in mortally 
wounding his antagonist. 


bereavement reached him. It can scarcely have failed to cause 
him pain, for, notwithstanding her relations with Henri III., he 
had remained attached to his wife ; but the reflection that now 
that her royal admirer had reappeared upon the scene, she 
would, had she lived, most certainly have brought fresh scandal 
upon his name, must have served to temper his grief. In the 
previous July, he had been proclaimed chief of the confederates 
by a Huguenot-Politique assembly which had met at Milhaud ; 
but he made no attempt to return to France, but wandered about 
Germany and Switzerland, negotiating with the Protestant princes 
and enlisting soldiers. With the aid of English gold, he finally 
succeeded in raising a small army, and, in the early autumn 
of 1575, he despatched part of it, under the command of Mont- 
morency-Thore, to the assistance of Alengon, who had just 
succeeded in effecting his escape from the Court and had placed 
himself at the head of the confederates. 1 But this force was 
too weak to effect anything, and was defeated by the Due de 
Guise at Dormans. 2 

Having levied fresh troops to replace those he had lost, in 
the following April, Conde himself re-entered France, after an 
absence of two years, crossed the Loire, near La Charite, and 
effected a junction with the troops of Alencpn in the Bourbonnais. 
Henri III. and Catherine were obliged to negotiate, and on 
6 May another hollow peace the " Paix de Monsieur" was 
signed at Beaulieu. The Protestants obtained greater conces- 
sions than any which they had yet enjoyed ; the Massacre of 
St. Bartholomew was formally disavowed and the property of 
Coligny and other prominent victims restored to their heirs ; 
and eight fortresses were handed over to the Reformers, as 
security for the due observance of the treaty. Alen^on received 
the addition to his appanage of Anjou, Berry, Touraine and 
Maine, and assumed the title of Due d' Anjou, which had been 
that of Henri III. before his accession to the throne ; while the 

1 In February, 1576, the King of Navarre also made his escape, and promptly 
reverted to the Protestant faith, but he took no active part in the remainder of the 

* It was in this engagement that the duke received the wound in the face which 
eamed him, like his celebrated father, the name of "/<? Salafrt" 


King of Navarre was confirmed in his government of Guienne 
and Conde in that of Picardy. The last-named prince was also 
guaranteed Peronne as a place of surety and a gratification. 
But, so far as he was concerned, the treaty remained a dead- 
letter : he never saw a sol of the money, nor was his authority 
ever acknowledged in Picardy, where Jacques d'Humieres, 
governor of PeVonne, a friend of the Guises, refused to deliver 
that fortress into his hands and formed a confederacy between 
the partisans of the Guises and the bigoted Catholics to oppose 

Deeply irritated by this breach of faith, Conde' determined 
to seek compensation in the west, and proceeded to take 
possession of Cognac and Saint- Jean-d'Angely, and to purchase, 
from the Sieur de Pons, the government of the important fortress 
of Brouage. Then he went to La Rochelle, where, "by a 
succession of very able orations," he succeeded in convincing 
the citizens, who were at first inclined to regard his pretensions 
with suspicion, that their mayor and bailiffs were quite unworthy 
of their confidence, and that they could not do better than 
entrust themselves to his protection, with the result that in a 
few weeks he was virtually master of the town. 

But the concession granted the Huguenots at the " Paix 
de Monsieur " had aroused, as had been the case after the Peace 
of Saint-Germain, the most violent resentment among the more 
zealous Catholics, who regarded them in the light of a betrayal 
of their faith ; and the efforts of Cond6 to consolidate his 
position in the West stimulated the growth of that confederacy 
which had already been formed against him in Picardy. The 
movement spread with astonishing rapidity, especially among 
the fanatical population of Paris, and soon grew into a general 
" Holy League," or association of the extreme Catholic party 
throughout the kingdom. 

The formation of the League, whose members were binding 
themselves to regard as enemies all who refused to join it, 
greatly alarmed Henri III., and, after an unsuccessful attempt 
to obtain a promise from the Guises that they would do nothing 
calculated to lead to a breach of the recent peace, he decided 


that the only course open to him was to place himself at its head. 
This decision rendered a new war inevitable, and early in 1 577 
it duly broke out. 

In the South, the Huguenots contrived to hold their own, 
but Conde, who commanded in Poitou and Saintonge, with the 
title of the King of Navarre's Lieutenant-General, fared badly, 
largely, it would seem, through his own want of military 
capacity, and was soon obliged to take refuge in La Rochelle, 
and look on helplessly while the enemy conquered the whole 
of the surrounding country. Finally, he made his] way into 
Guienne and joined his cousin, upon whom he, very unfairly, 
endeavoured to throw the blame of his ill-success in the West. 
In September, the Peace of Bergerac, another ineffectual treaty, 
which granted in the main what that of the previous year had 
already promised, nominally put an end to the war, though 
private hostilities storming of chateaux, assassinations, and 
pillage still continued. 

At the end of the following year, Marguerite de Valois 
joined her husband at Nerac. Catherine, whom the King left 
free to intrigue as she pleased, accompanied her daughter, 
bringing with her her " squadron," whose charms wrought much 
havoc among the gentlemen of Henri's little Court. She 
remained there several months, but the results of her visit fell 
very far short of her expectations, and, on her return to Paris, 
she made overtures to Conde, who, since the last war, had been 
on far from cordial terms with the King of Navarre. With a 
view to separating him entirely from his cousin, she offered him 
the hand of the Queen's sister, Mile, de Vaudemont, together 
with a considerable pension and the restoration of his govern- 
ment of Picardy. Conde declined the marriage, on the plea of 
difference in religion, and the next thing Catherine heard about 
him was that he had made his way in disguise into Picardy, 
and seized the town of La Fere, by means of a stratagem 
(November, 1579). 

The prince was left in peaceable possession of La Fere for 
some months, though his efforts to extend his influence through 
the rest of the province were unsuccessful. But when, in the 


spring of 1580, the " Lovers' War" broke out, he was compelled 
to abandon his conquest and take refuge in the Netherlands. 
From there he crossed to England and endeavoured to obtain 
assistance from Elizabeth ; but, failing in this, returned to the 
Netherlands, and, after taking part in the defence of Ghent, in 
which he exhibited great courage, made his way into Germany 
and concluded a treaty with the Elector Palatine, but on such 
disadvantageous terms that the French Protestants promptly 
repudiated it. He then began a little war on his own account 
in the Cevennes ; but in November the King of Navarre made 
peace with the Court at Fleix, and obliged him to suspend his 
somewhat futile operations. 

The Treaty of Fleix was followed by four years of anarchic 
peace, which were passed by Conde chiefly at Saint-Jean- 
d'Angely. He had been reconciled to the King of Navarre, 
and the two cousins visited one another on several occasions ; 
but this reconciliation was never really sincere, for Conde was 
not a little jealous of the military reputation which Henri had 
acquired in the last war, and he and the more fanatical section 
of the Protestants disapproved of the moderation shown by the 
young king, and sometimes endeavoured to compel him to 
adopt measures which his good sense condemned. 

On ii June, 1584, the Due d'Anjou died of consumption at 
Chateau-Thierry. His death made the King of Navarre heir- 
presumptive to the French crown, and, as Henri III. had, for 
some time past, abandoned all hope of leaving children behind 
him, the question of the succession at once became of para- 
mount importance. But the accession of a heretic to the throne 
was repugnant to the whole Catholic population, and was 
certain to be violently opposed by a considerable section of it. 
For the intimate connexion of the State and the orthodox 
Church was held to be a fundamental law of the monarchy ; and 
even men of moderate views, who were willing enough that the 
Huguenots should be tolerated, were alarmed at the prospect 
of their domination. 

Very intelligent, whenever he could contrive to free himself 
for a time from his idle and voluptuous habits, Henri III. had 


foreseen this, and, about the middle of May that is to say, 
about three weeks before Anjou's death had despatched one 
of his favourites, the Due d'fipernon, to the King of Navarre, 
"bearing him letters in which he admonished, exhorted, and 
entreated him, seeing that the life of the Due d'Anjou, his 
brother, was despaired of, to come to Court and go to Mass, 
because he desired to recognize him as his true heir and 
successor, and to give him such rank and dignity near his 
person as his qualification of brother-in-law and heir to the 
throne deserved." The Protestants testified the greatest 
uneasiness at these overtures, and began to approach Cond6, 
with a view to his adoption as the leader of the party, in the 
event of the King of Navarre again renouncing their faith. 
But their alarm was groundless, for, though Henri held but 
lightly by his creed, and all the Catholics about him besought 
him to remove the one obstacle to his succession, he felt that 
the time had not come when he could afford to offend the 
Huguenots. And so, with many protestations of gratitude 
and loyalty, he declared himself unable to accede to his 
Majesty's wishes. 

The fact that the legitimate heir to the throne was a heretic 
made the renewal of the civil war inevitable, and, on the death 
of Anjou, the Guises and the League at once began to organize 
their forces for the coming struggle. The wretched, vacillating 
King was intimidated into giving them his countenance and 
support ; and, on 15 July, 1585, signed the Treaty of Nemours, 
which promised the revocation of all the edicts in favour of 
toleration, and placed at the disposal of the League all the 
resources of the Crown. Having secured the assistance of the 
temporal power, they next summoned the spiritual to their aid, 
and persuaded the new Pope, Sixtus V., to launch against the 
two princes a Bull of Excommunication, wherein he declared 
them " degraded from their fiefs and baronies, and incapacitated 
from succession to the Crown of France." The cousins issued 
a scornful response, a copy of which was posted up even in 
Rome itself, and war began. 

Cond(j again received the command of the Huguenot forces 


in Poitou and Saintonge, and found himself opposed by the 
Due de Mercceur. The prince's army was inferior in numbers 
to that of the Catholics, but he contrived to surprise the 
enemy in their camp near Fontenay, and drove them in con- 
fusion across the Loire; after which, strengthened by the 
arrival of reinforcements for La Rochelle, he laid siege to 

Conde's attention was not, however, entirely absorbed by 
military matters at this juncture. Notwithstanding the rather 
unfortunate outcome of his first matrimonial venture, he had for 
some time past been desirous of marrying again ; and, shortly 
before the renewal of hostilities, he had decided to propose for 
the hand of Charlotte Catherine de la Tremoille, only daughter 
of Louis III., Due de Thouars, Prince de Tarente and de 
Talmont, and Jeanne de Montmorency. 

Charlotte de la Tremoille's father, who, by the way, had 
been a fanatical Catholic and a determined opponent of Conde in 
Poitou, of which province he was lieutenant-general, had died 
some years before, since which the girl had lived with her 
mother at the Chateau of Thouars, in Anjou. She was now 
seventeen, very pretty, very intelligent, and of a highly 
romantic disposition, for the Duchesse de Thouars, who 
appears to have had little affection for her daughter, had left 
her very much to her own devices, and she was accustomed to 
spend a good deal of her time in the perusal of the " Amadis " and 
other fashionable works of imagination. 

Conde despatched one of his officers to the Duchesse de 
Thouars to make the first overtures on his behalf. They were 
favourably received, and the duchess hastened to send her 
daughter to the Chateau of Taillebourg, a fortress of some 
importance on the banks of the Charente, whither she intended 
to follow her, so that his Highness might have an opportunity 
of paying his addresses to the young lady, and she of discussing 
with him the financial side of the affair. The alliance of the 
first Prince of the Blood, one of the leaders of the Huguenots, 
was very flattering to the pride of the La Tre"moilles, who did 
not share the prejudices of the late head of the family ; indeed, 


the young Due de Thouars, although a Catholic, had taken up 
arms for Conde. 

As for Charlotte, to her romantic imagination, the prospect 
of sharing the fortunes of a prince who had experienced enough 
adventures to satisfy the most gluttonous of knight-errants, and 
who, if he had not yet achieved any very brilliant success, had 
supported his reverses with a fortitude which had gained him 
the admiration of even his enemies, could not fail to make a 
powerful appeal, and she looked forward with impatience to the 
conclusion of the negotiations. 

On learning of the favourable reception of his overtures, 
Cond^, who was besieging Brouage, lost no time in addressing 
to the Duchesse de Thouars a formal request for her daughter's 
hand. The duchess informed Charlotte, who wrote to the 
prince the following letter : 

" MADAME, 1 

" I am not able, it seems to me, to thank you as I should 
wish for the honour that it pleases you to do me by your letter, 
and for the good-will which it appears you entertain for me, which 
oblige me to serve you in such fashion that I shall esteem 
myself very happy all my life if I am favoured by your com- 
mands, which I shall execute with as much fidelity as any 
creature in the world. And, since I know that Madame de la 
Tr^moille, my mother, is replying to what you have been so good 
as to write to her, I shall say nothing on this subject, save that 
my i intention has ever been to conform to her will, and that it 
will remain so eternally, and to assure you again Mons f (sic) 
that my little merit must prevent me from believing what it 
pleases you to express for me. . . I thank you very humbly for 
the honour which I receive from your suit, although I know that 
I am in no way worthy of it, which places me under a very great 
obligation to you. I shall leave to Madame de la Tr6moille, my 
mother, to reply on the subject of the journeys of the bearer of 
this, for all that I have desired my whole life, is to follow these 

1 The young lady, of course, intended to write " Monsieur." 


commands, in which I shall never fail, and, in token of this, I 
shall kiss your hands. 

" Your very humble servant, etc., etc." l 

On learning that Mile, de Tre'moille had arrived at Taille- 
bourg, Cond< quitted his camp at Brouage and proceeded thither. 
He took with him the greater part of the Huguenot cavalry, 
and we may imagine with what a thrill of pleasure the romantic 
Charlotte must have beheld this valiant prince coming to woo 
her accompanied by so splendid an array of mail-clad horsemen. 
Nor was she less pleased when, at the gateway of the chateau, 
her suitor dismissed his imposing escort, and, to show his con- 
fidence, entered with three or four of his officers only. 

All smiles and blushes the young chatelaine came forward 
to greet him, and, though Conde was usually very reserved with 
women, Mademoiselle was so pretty and so sympathetic that 
soon he found himself discoursing of his wars and his wander- 
ings as though he had known her for years. Before the evening 
was over, Charlotte had decided that the hero of her dreams 
had indeed materialized ; while the prince was completely 
charmed. "The two betrothed," writes a contemporary 
biographer of the latter, " promised henceforth to live and die 
together, provided that they obtained the consent of Madame 
de la Tre'moille, of which Mademoiselle her daughter was 
sufficiently assured ; " 3 and Cond6 might have said with 

" She loved me for the dangers I had passed, 
And I lov'd her that she did pity them." 

Mile, de la Tremoille gave that very night a proof of her 
devotion to her future husband. As the garrison of Taillebourg 
contained several men who, she had reason to suspect, were by 
no means well-disposed towards the Huguenot leader, "she 

1 Published by tdouard Barthelemy, " la Princesse de Conde : Charlotte Catherine 
de la Tremoille." 

2 " Veritable discours de la naissance et de la vie de Monseigneur le prince de 
Conde jusqu'a present, a lui desdie par le sieur de Fiefbrun," public par Eugene 
Halphen (Paris, 1861). 


did not take any repose all night, but watched with extreme 
care over his safety until the morning, placing the sentinels 
herself and making hourly inquiries of the rounds if they had 
discovered anything which might trouble the repose of our 
amorous prince." l 

Early on the morrow, Conde" left Taillebourg, but, before 
his departure, he gave Mile, de la Tre"moille, " two lines in his 
own handwriting and signed by him, containing the assurance 
of his good faith touching their future marriage." Then, " after 
a thousand reiterated promises that death alone should be the 
separation of their union," he took leave of his betrothed and 
returned to Brouage. 

The siege of this town was progressing rapidly ; Condi's 
forces closely invested it on the land side, while the little 
Huguenot fleet blockaded the port ; a portion of the outworks 
had already been captured, and its fall seemed assured, 
when the prince thoughtlessly engaged in a most disastrous 

It happened that a Huguenot captain named Rochemorte, 
attached to a small force which Conde" had sent across the 
Loire to make an incursion into Anjou and Normandy, had 
succeeded, with a mere handful of men, in taking by surprise 
the citadel of Angers. The town, however, remained in the 
hands of the Catholics ; the daring Rochemorte and his little 
band were being closely besieged, and, unless reinforcements 
speedily arrived, he would be obliged to capitulate. This news 
caused great excitement in the Protestant camp, and the prince, 
instead of contenting himself by the despatch of a force sufficient 
to enable Rochemorte to hold the captured citadel, was per- 
suaded by his flatterers to go in person and attempt the capture 
of the town. So brilliant a success, they assured him, would 
entirely eclipse the military reputation of the King of Navarre, 
change the whole course of events, and strike such consternation 
into the enemy that very soon he might be able to carry the 
war to the very gates of Paris. 

It was a most rash undertaking, for not only was Angers a 

1 Fiefbrun. 


strongly-fortified town, but the neighbourhood was the point of 
concentration for the, Catholic armies destined to operate in 
the South, and was swarming with the enemy. However, his 
jealousy of his cousin, and his anxiety to distinguish himself 
in the eyes of his lady-love, rendered him deaf to the voice 
of reason ; and, after wasting a good deal of precious time in 
preparations for his expedition, he set off for Angers, at the 
head of some 2000 horse, three-fourths of whom were mounted 

On the way, he had an interview with the Duchesse de 
Thouars, who was journeying to Taillebourg to join her daughter. 
Henri III., it appears, had lately brought pressure to bear upon 
the duchess to persuade her to break off the negotiations for 
the marriage, and, as the latter was beginning to feel seriously 
uneasy as to the future of her prospective son-in-law, she received 
him very coldly and endeavoured to evade giving the con- 
sent which he demanded. Perceiving how the land lay, Conde 
refrained from pressing the matter ; and, after overwhelming 
her with protestations of friendship, took his departure, and 
despatched in all haste a courier to Taillebourg, with the 
following message, written on a leaf of his tablets : 

" I have found Madame, your mother, whether from fear or 
otherwise, very much opposed to my happiness. I hope to 
conquer her severity by my perseverance and my conduct, 
swearing that you alone possess my heart, and that neither 
her prejudice nor any accident shall be able to prevent me 
from remaining until death your unchanging serviteur" l 

On 21 October, the prince arrived beneath the walls of 
Angers. He came too late, for, two days before, Rochemorte 
had been killed, and the citadel had capitulated. His wisest 
course would have been to retreat at once, for, although he 
had received reinforcements after crossing the Loire, his army 
did not exceed 3000 men, and hostile columns were already 
gathering in his rear. However, he determined to endeavour 

1 Edouard de Barthelemy, " la Princesse de Conde : Charlotte Catherine de la 
Tremoille, d'apres leslettres inedites conserves dans'les archives de Thouars " (Paris, 


to carry the town by storm, and made two assaults, both of 
which were repulsed with considerable loss. Then, very reluc- 
tantly, he gave the order to retire ; but there was some delay 
in carrying it out, and scarcely had his vanguard crossed the 
Loire, than ithe enemy's cavalry appeared on both banks of 
the river. For a moment, he thought of endeavouring to make 
his way along the right bank of the Loire to the Huguenot 
stronghold of Sancerre, but, learning that the Catholics were 
in force in that direction, he abandoned it, and decided that 
the only course to adopt was for his followers to disperse and 
endeavour to creep through the meshes of the net which was 
closing round them. He himself, with a few officers, turned 
northwards, and succeeded in reaching Saint-Mai o, where he 
embarked for Guernsey. 

In that little island the unfortunate prince remained for 
more than two months. He was almost in despair, for he well 
knew that his folly, which had deprived the Huguenot forces of 
the West of their chief, many of their principal officers, and the 
greater part of their cavalry, must have ruined their operations 
in that part of the country, and compelled them to remain 
wholly on the defensive. Moreover, he saw no immediate 
prospect of being able to return to France, for, though he had 
applied for assistance to Elizabeth, that princess was unwilling 
at this juncture to offend the French Court, and he got nothing 
from her but expressions of sympathy. One day, however, 
in January, 1586, he perceived two ships-of-war flying the 
Rochellois ensign, approaching the island. They cast anchor ; 
an officer landed, handed the delighted prince a letter from 
Mile, de la Tremoille, and informed him that they had been sent 
to convey him to La Rochelle. 

But let us see how Mile, de la Tr6moille had been faring 
during her lover's enforced absence from France. 


Loyalty of Mile, de Tre"moille to Conde" She prevents her mother, the 
Duchesse de Thouars, from surrendering the Chateau of Taillebourg to a 
Catholic force And defends it gallantly until she is relieved She equips 
two ships-of-war to bring Cond from Guernsey Reunion of the lovers 
Their marriage Conde" takes the field again Financial embarrassments of 
the new mtnage Battle of Coutras : encounter between Conde" and Saint- 
Luc Ill-health of the prince He returns to Saint-Jean-d'Angely He is 
suddenly taken ill, and dies in two days Violent grief of his wife Suspicions 
of the doctors An autopsy is performed, and the prince is declared to have 
been poisoned Letter of the King of Navarre to the Comtesse de Gramont 
Flight of the princess's page, Belcastel, and her head valet-de-chambre, 
Corbais Arrest of her intendant, Brilland The King of Navarre arrives at 
Saint-Jean-d'Angely, and orders the Princesse de Cond to be placed under 
arrest Terrible situation of the princess. 

A~TER the disastrous expedition to Angers and the 
flight of Conde, the Duchesse de Thouars resolved to 
side definitely with the Catholic party, and to do 
everything in her power to prevent the marriage of which she 
had at first so warmly approved. She had now joined Charlotte 
at Taillebourg, " where mother and daughter did not get on too 
well together," * for, as is generally the case with young ladies 
of a romantic turn of mind, obstacles only served to fire 
Charlotte's imagination, and the more opposed did the duchess 
become to the marriage, the more firmly did the girl resolve to 
remain true to her lover. 

At length, matters reached a climax. At the outbreak of 
hostilities, the young Due de Thouars, who, as we have 
mentioned, had joined Conde's army, had installed a Huguenot 
garrison in the chateau. This garrison the duchess resolved to 
get rid of, and to replace it by a Catholic one ; and, one fine 

1 De Thou. 


day, four companies of soldiers marched into the town, under 
the command of a certain M. de Beaumont, who was entrusted 
with a letter for the Duchesse de Thouars from the Marechal de 
Matignon, general-in-chief of the royal forces in the West, in 
which he called upon her, in the King's name, to surrender the 
chateau, promising to restore it at the conclusion of the war. 
The duchess was joyfully preparing to obey, when her daughter 
intervened and informed her, very respectfully, but very firmly, 
that she should refuse to consent to the surrender, and that 
"she intended to keep inviolable the pledge which she had 
given Mgr. le Prince de Conde to preserve the chateau for him 
until her death." 1 

Madame de Thouars expostulated, coaxed, threatened ; all 
to no purpose. Charlotte was immovable as the rock upon 
which the chateau stood, and eventually the mortified lady 
ordered her coach and set out for Thouars, abandoning her 
rebellious daughter to the dangers of a siege. 

The Chateau of Taillebourg was an old fortress of the 
thirteenth century, 3 situated on a steep rock, which rendered it 
perfectly safe from attack on three sides. On the one on which 
it was accessible, Charlotte ordered two culverins to be placed, 
so as completely to command the approach, perceiving which, 
Beaumont, who does not appear to have had any artillery with 
him, prudently refrained from any attempt to take the chateau 
by storm, and contented himself by very closely investing it. 
Aware that it was not provisioned for a siege, he felt confident 
that want of provisions must soon oblige the garrison to 

The days went slowly by. Every morning Beaumont for- 
mally summoned the defenders to surrender, only to receive 
a scornful defiance. But, in the meantime, famine was 
beginning to stare them in the face, and Charlotte recognized 

1 Fiefbrun. 

* It had had an eventfuL history during the Hundred Years' War, when it was 
more than once taken and re-taken. In 1562, a daring Huguenot adventurer named 
Romegoux escaladed it, by means of poniards fixed in the interstices of the walls, 
and for some years used it as a base for his operations against the Catholics of the 
surrounding country. 


that, unless help arrived, it would be impossible to hold out 
much longer. Just, however, when her situation seemed almost 
desperate, she learned that a body of Huguenot cavalry under 
the Sieur de la Boullaye, which had succeeded in escaping 
from the Angers fiasco, was in the neighbourhood ; and she at 
once determined to make an attempt to communicate with it. 
This, at first sight, seemed a hopeless undertaking, for the place, 
as we have said, had been very closely invested ; but she 
perceived that at the rear of the chateau, where the rock was a 
sheer precipice, Beaumont had placed only a very few men, 
deeming it impossible for any one to descend on that side. 
Accordingly, when darkness fell, she caused one of her servants 
to be lowered by a rope down the face of the cliff; and the man, 
unperceived by the enemy, succeeded in making his way to 
La Boullaye's camp. 

The besiegers, to guard against any attempt to relieve the 
chateau, had taken the precaution to fortify a large house 
which commanded the entrance to the town of Taillebourg. 
But, as soon as morning dawned, Charlotte " said good-day to 
the enemy with her culverins," and, turning them upon this 
house, kept up so persistent and well-directed a fire, that it was 
soon almost in ruins ; and when the Huguenots arrived, they 
had no difficulty in making their way into the town. 

Fighting continued all day, with no decisive result; but, 
during the night, the Catholics, who had lost some sixty men 
and whose commander had been taken prisoner, evacuated the 
town and retreated behind the Charente. La Boullaye did not 
pursue them ; but, after placing a strong garrison in the chateau, 
escorted its brave defender to La Rochelle, where she promptly 
caused two ships to be fitted out, at her own expense, and 
despatched to Guernsey, to convey her lover and his fellow- 
exiles back to France. 

Within an hour or two of the arrival of Charlotte's ships, 
Conde" was on his way to La Rochelle, where he landed a few 
days later. " I was there," writes Fiefbrun, " and had the honour 
of accompanying this princess (Mile, de la Tre"moille) to the 
port, where she received his Excellency with so many expressions 


of joy, that never was seen anything jin the world to surpass 
in mutual affection their caresses and welcomes, followed by 
public rejoicings on the part of the nobility and the people 
which it would be impossible to describe." 1 

The prince and his lady-love looked forward with impatience 
to their marriage, to which, however, the Duchesse de Thouars 
continued to show herself extremely hostile. At length, how- 
ever, she was persuaded to give a grudging consent, though she 
absolutely refused to grace the ceremony with her presence. It 
took place very quietly at the Chateau of Taillebourg, on 16 
March, 1586. A little while before, Charlotte had become a 
Protestant, her example being followed by her brother, the 
Due de Thouars. 

Almost immediately after his marriage, Cond6 took the field 
again. He was burning to distinguish himself and efface the 
memory of the disaster of the previous year, which had furnished 
the King of Navarre and his little Court of Nerac with material 
for many biting jests at his expense. 3 Glory, however, con- 
tinued to evade his pursuit, and his solitary success was gained in 
a cavalry skirmish before Saintes, which, however, cost him so 
dear that he is said to have been " more afflicted by his losses 
than elated by his victory." 8 

In August, an armistice was concluded, and the remainder of 
the year was spent in negotiations, which led to nothing. They 
enabled Conde, however, to spend a few weeks with his bride at 
Saint-Jean-d'Angely, where, as most of the prince's property 
had been sequestrated by the Crown, while it was not until 
nearly two years after the marriage that the Duchesse de 
Thouars condescended to pay her daughter's dowry, they were 
obliged to content themselves with a very modest establishment. 
Indeed, to judge from the following letter from the princess to 
Longuespe"e, her agent at Taillebourg, there must have been 
times when they found themselves greatly embarrassed for even 
comparatively small sums of money : 

1 " Veritable discoursde la naissance et de la vie de Mgr. le prince de Conde." 

2 So incensed was the poor prince at these pleasantries that when his cousin 
summoned him to attend a Protestant conference at Bergerac, he declined to obey. 

* De Thou. 


" Longuesp6e, my knowledge of the good-will which you 
have long shown in our service has caused me to write you, to 
beg you to do me the favour of handing to the bearer of this 
the sum of one hundred cus, on account of larger sums which 
are due to her for bread that she has supplied while my husband 
and I have been here. And, if just now you have not the sum 
mentioned, I beg you to make arrangements to obtain it, so 
that I may satisfy her, assuring you that the favour which you 
will be doing me will be very agreeable to me, and hoping to 
remember it on the first occasion which presents itself as will- 
ingly as I shall remain your good mistress, 


" At Saint-Jean-d'Angely, this 21 September 1586. 

" I beg you again not to refuse me." 1 

On 30 April, 1587, the Princesse de Cond6 gave birth to " a 
daughter worthy of such a mother," who received the name of 
fele'onore, in memory of the prince's mother, and became in 1606 
the wife of Philip William of Nassau, Prince of Orange. 

Early in the new year hostilities were resumed, and Conde* 
gained several successes in Poitou and Saintonge. In October, 
the King of Navarre and Conde" marched from La Rochelle to 
the Loire to meet the latter's younger brothers, the Marquis de 
Conti and the Comte de Soissons, who, although Catholics, had 
been persuaded to cast in their lot with their relatives. Then 
they turned southwards, with the intention of concentrating all 
their troops in Gascony, and afterwards marching towards 
Berry, to effect their junction with a German force which was 
advancing to their assistance. 2 They were closely followed by 
a royal army under the Due de Joyeuse, while another Catholic 
force under Matignon advanced against them from Guienne. 
To prevent the junction of Joyeuse and Matignon, the King of 
Navarre decided to give battle to the former in the plain before 

1 Edouard de Barthelemy, " La Princesse de Conde: Charlotte Catherine de La 

* The Marquis de Conti had gone to Strasbourg to take the nominal command 
of the Germans. 


Coutras, on the borders of Saintonge and Peiigord. The 
Catholics had a considerable advantage in point of numbers ; 
but Henri's army was almost entirely composed of veterans, 
and he was confident of success. As his officers were hastening 
to their posts, he stopped his cousins and exclaimed : " Gentle- 
men, I have only one thing to say to you : remember that you 
are of the House of Bourbon. Vive Dieu ! I will show you that 
I am its head ! " " And we will show you that we are good 
cadets," replied Conde". 

Henri's confidence was justified ; in less than an hour the 
Catholic army was completely routed, Joyeuse killed, and all 
the artillery, standards and baggage taken. It was the first 
victory in the open field which the Protestants had gained 
in twenty-five years of civil war, and stamped the King of 
Navarre as a bold and successful general. 

Conde" greatly distinguished himself, and, though his armour 
was hacked almost to pieces, he escaped unwounded from the 
battle itself. But in the pursuit he was not so fortunate. One 
of the bravest captains of the royal army, d'Espinay Saint-Luc, 
who had gallantly defended Brouage against the Huguenots in 
the preceding year, finding that his horse was too exhausted to 
carry him out of the field, resolved to do something to distinguish 
himself ere he surrendered. Having descried Conde almost 
isolated in the middle of the plain, he laid his lance in rest and 
charged him so furiously that both horse and man went down. 
Saint-Luc immediately dismounted, extricated the prince from 
his fallen steed, and tendered him his gauntlet, saying : 
" Monseigneur, Saint-Luc surrenders to you ; do not refuse 

Although the lance had not penetrated the prince's armour, 
which happened to be intact at the spot where he had been struck, 
he was badly bruised and shaken and scarcely able to stand. 
However, he embraced and pardoned the prisoner who had 
adopted this highly disagreeable mode of surrender, and was then 
carried to the King of Navarre's quarters. 

The victory of Coutras although so complete, had no im- 
portant results. D'Aubigne accuses the King of Navarre of 


having sacrificed his duty to love to his eagerness to lay at 
the feet of his mistress, the Comtesse de Gramont (la belle Cori- 
sande), the standards which he had captured. But his inaction 
was more probably due to the fact that it was impossible for him 
to keep his army together, so eager were the soldiers to return to 
their homes with their booty. Anyway, he made no attempt to 
join the Germans, who were defeated by the Due de Guise at 
Vimory, near Orleans, and again at Anneau, and driven across 
the frontier, with terrible loss. 

Conde, who had in vain endeavoured to persuade his cousin 
to continue the operations, decided to lead the contingents of 
Poitou and Saintonge against Saumur, but so many of his men 
deserted that he was compelled to abandon this enterprise. He 
was, besides, far too unwell for further service, for, since his 
encounter with Saint-Luc, he had been suffering from severe 
pains in the side ; and on reaching Saintes, these were com- 
plicated by an attack of fever. The princess rejoined him 
there, 1 and early in January, 1588 he was sufficiently recovered 
to return to Saint-Jean-d'Angely. Shortly afterwards, the pains 
in the side returned ; but, passionately devoted as he was to all 
martial exercises, he no sooner felt better than he was in the 
saddle again ; and on Thursday, 3 March, spent some hours in 
tilting at the ring, on which occasion he rode a restive horse, 
which reared repeatedly. 2 

About an hour after supper that evening, the prince was 
seized with violent pains in the stomach, followed by repeated 
vomiting. He was attended by his chief surgeon, Nicolas Poget, 
and a physician named Bonaventure de Medicis, "who aided 
the movements of nature. The malady notwithstanding con- 
tinued all night . . . and so great was his difficulty in breathing 
that he was unable to stay in his bed, and was compelled to sit 
in a chair. 

"Whereupon, on the morrow, Maitres Louis Bontemps 
and Jean Pallet, also doctors of medicine, were called into 

1 The Due d'Aumale ("Histoire des Princes de Conde"") says that the princess 
remained at Saint-Jean-d'Angely, but this is incorrect. 
* Due d'Aumale, " Histoire des Princes de Conde." 


consultation ; and they all of them succoured his Excellency 
with all diligence and fidelity, by all the means that they judged 
suitable, according to the symptoms of the malady. But on 
the Saturday, the fifth day of the month, and the second of the 
malady, at three o'clock in the afternoon, all things took a turn 
for the worse, and an entire suffocation of all the faculties 
supervened, in which he rendered his soul to God half an hour 
afterwards." 1 

" I was one of those," writes Fiefbrun, " who were chosen to 
report this piteous calamity to Madame his wife, whom I found 
descending the steps of her hdtel to come and visit him in his 
little lodging, where she expected to find him alive, since she 
had as yet no idea that he was so near his last day. As soon as 
she caught sight of me, she suspected her misfortune, and pressing 
me to tell her in a few words, she fell down in a swoon, and was 
carried immediately to her bed, where she broke forth into the 
most terrible lamentations, accompanied by so many sobs and 
sighs that they could not be imagined save by those who saw and 
heard them. They were so violent that I am often astonished 
that they did not occasion a miscarriage." 2 

In view of what we are about to relate, Fiefbrun's account 
of the [manner in which the Princesse de Conde" received the 
news of her husband's death is of extreme importance. 

The rapidity of the malady, and the fact that decomposition 
set in within two hours after death, " gave cause to the doctors 
and surgeons to suspect that there had been some extraordinary 
and violent cause." By order of the prince's council, two other 
surgeons were called in, and an autopsy performed. This served 
to confirm their suspicions. " We have found," runs their report, 
"all the stomach, particularly towards the right part, black, 
burned, gangreened, and ulcerated, which, in our opinion, can 
only have been caused by a quantity of burning, ulcerating, and 
caustic poison, which poison has left evident traces of its passage 

1 " Rapport des medecins et chirurgiens sur la mort de Monseigneur le Prince de 
CondeV' published by 6douard Barthelemy, " La Princesse de Conde : Charlotte 
Catherine de la Tremoille." 

* She was three months pregnant. 


in the esophagus. The liver, in the part adjoining the aforesaid 
channel, was altered and burned, and all the rest of the organ 
livid, as were also the lungs. There was not a single part of his 
Excellency's body which was not very sound and very healthy, 
if the violent poison had not destroyed and corrupted the parts 
mentioned." l 

Meanwhile, orders had been given that all the late prince's 
servants were to be placed under arrest, and a courier had been 
despatched to the King of Navarre, who was at Nerac. Under 
date 10 March, 1588, we find Henri writing to the Comtesse de 
Gramont as follows : 

" To finish describing myself, there has happened to me one 
of the greatest calamities that I could possibly fear, which is 
the sudden death of Monsieur le Prince. I mourn for him as he 
ought to have been to me, not as he was. I am assured of being 
the only target at which the perfidies of the Mass are aimed. 
They have poisoned him, the traitors ! 

"On Thursday, this poor prince, after tilting at the ring, 
supped, feeling well. At midnight, he was seized with a very 
violent vomiting, which lasted till morning. All Friday he kept 
his bed. In the evening, he supped, and having slept well, he 
rose on Saturday morning, dined at table, and then played at 
chess. He rose from his chair, and walked up and down his 
chamber, chatting with one and the other. All at once, he 
said : ' Give me my chair ; I feel a great weakness.' Scarcely 
was he seated when he lost the power of speech, and imme- 
diately expired. The effects of poison at once became apparent. 

" It is incredible the consternation which this has caused in 
that part of the country. I am starting at daybreak to travel 
thither with all speed. I see myself on the way to encounter 
much danger. Pray to God for me earnestly. If I escape it, it 
must be because it is He who had protected me. Up to the 
grave, to which I am perhaps nearer than I think, I shall 
remain your faithful slave. Good-night, my soul ; I kiss your 
hands a thousand times." a 

1 " Rapport des me'decins et chirurgiens sur la mort de Monseigneur le Prince de 

2 "Lettres missives de Henri IV." 


Next morning, the King of Navarre set out for Saint-Jean- 
d'Angely, " to console my cousin, Madame la Princesse, and to 
prevent our enemies from profiting by our losses and misfortunes 
and by my absence." * On the second day of his journey, 
however, he was met by a courier, with intelligence which con- 
vinced him that the bereaved princess was an object of something 
very different from sympathy. 

" There arrived yesterday," he writes to his Corisande, " the 
one at midday, the other in the evening, two couriers. The first 
reported that Belcastel, the page of Madame la Princesse? and 
her first valet de chambre* had fled, immediately after seeing 
their master dead. They found two horses worth two hundred 
e'cus at an inn in the faubourg, where they had been kept for a 
fortnight, and each had a wallet full of money. On being 
questioned, the innkeeper stated that it was a person named 
Brilland who had given him the horses, and that he came every day 
to tell him to treat them well ; that if he gave four measures of 
oats to the other horses, he was to give them eight, and that he 
would pay double. This Brilland is a man whom Madame la 
Princesse had placed in her Household and given the charge of 
everything. He was immediately arrested. He confesses to 
have given one thousand ecus to the page and to have purchased 
the horses, by his mistress's order, to go to Italy. 

"The second courier confirms all this, and says further that 
Brilland was compelled to write a letter to the valet de cliambre> 
who was known to be at Poitiers, in which he requested him 
to come two hundred paces from the gate, as he wished to speak 
to him. 4 Immediately, the ambuscade which was there seized 
him, and he was brought to Saint-Jean. He has not yet been 
interrogated, but he said to those who were bringing him : c Ah ! 
what a wicked woman Madame [the Princesse de Conde] is ! 
Let them arrest her treasurer ; I will tell everything frankly.' 
This was done. That is all that is known up to the present. 

1 The King of Navarre to M. de Scorbiac, II March, 1588. 

2 He was a lad of about sixteen, a Perigourdin. 

* His name was Antoine Corbais, and he was a native of La Fere. 
4 They could not, of course, arrest the man within the town, since it was in the 
hands of the Catholics. 




Remember what I have told you at other times. I am seldom 
deceived in my judgments. A bad woman is a dangerous animal 
(une dangereuse beste). All these poisoners are Papists. It was 
from them that the lady received her instructions. I have dis- 
covered an assassin for myself. God will protect me, and I will 
tell you more about it soon. . . . My soul, I am very well in 
body, but very afflicted in mind. Love me, and let me see 
that you do ; that will be a great consolation for me." l 

The King of Navarre did not carry out his original intention 
of proceeding straight to Saint-Jean-d'Angely, for, on reaching 
Pons, he turned aside to La Rochelle, and it was not until the 
evening of 29 March that he reached the scene of the tragedy. 
The probable reason for this delay was his wish to avoid com- 
mitting himself until further light had been thrown upon the 

The princess, although, of course, under close supervision, 
was still nominally at liberty, for Fiefbrun, to whom, in his 
capacity of bailiff of Saint-Jean-d'Angely, Henri had entrusted 
the conduct of the inquiry, was a devoted servant of the Condes 
and was naturally very reluctant to take any definite steps 
against her. But, on his arrival, he found public opinion in the 
town so hostile to the lady that he felt obliged to order her 

Personal considerations would appear to have been no 
stranger to this decision, and to the vigour with which he subse- 
quently pushed on proceedings against the princess. The very 
strained relations which had existed for some time past between 
him and the late prince were common knowledge, and his enemies 
had not hesitated to circulate the report that he was privy to the 
death of his cousin. Theodore de Beze had just written, warning 
him of this atrocious calumny, and urging him to take immediate 
steps to refute it : 

" On this point I am constrained to add, knowing what might 

be the consequence of sinister counsels and your own clemency 

and good-nature, that your enemies have even dared, with 

that imprudence and wickedness which is the result of despair, 

1 " Lettres missives de Henri IV." 


to spread the report that this detestable crime was instigated 
by you. You neither can nor ought to hesitate about this 
action, without making an irreparable breach in your reputation ; 
but, on the contrary, you ought to pursue the matter to judgment 
and execution, so as to stop the mouths of these detestable 
calumniators in the sight of God and man." l 

After ordering the arrest of the Princesse de Conde*, Henri 
despatched one of his gentlemen, the Sieur de Veau Limery, 
to the Court, with a letter for " the Queen, mother of the King, 
my lord," in which he informed her that the page Belcastel, " the 
principal instrument of the crime," had taken refuge in Poitiers, 
and begged her to give orders that search should be made for 
him, and that, when apprehended, he should be conducted to 
Saint-Jean-d'Angely, to be confronted with his accomplices. 
Instructions to that effect were sent to Poitiers ; but nothing 
was ever heard of the fugitive page, who seemed to have 
vanished off the face of the earth. 

The position of the Princesse de Condd was a terrible one. 
It was not only at Saint-Jean-d'Angely that public opinion had 
pronounced against her. The more zealous Huguenots, furious 
at the supposed crime which had deprived them of the prince 
who had shared all their passions and prejudices, were loud in 
their demands that she should be brought to justice ; while the 
Catholics were very hostile to the princess, on account of her 
abjuration and her conduct in recent events, in which she had 
rendered such good service to the Protestant cause. To her 
relatives she looked in vain for help or sympathy. The Duchesse 
de Thouars, who, since the affair of Taillebourg, had been on 
the worst possible terms with her daughter, never seems to have 
even thought of coming to Saint-Jean-d'Angely to inquire if she 
were innocent or guilty ; and her absence still further prejudiced 
the princess's case in the eyes of the public. The young Due 
de Thouars, who, one would naturally suppose, would have been 
eager to champion his sister, does not appear to have moved in the 
matter at all. As for her husband's relatives, the Prince de Conti 
and the Comte de Soissons seem to have at once made up their 

1 Published by the Due d'Aumale, " Histoire des Princes de Conde." 


minds that she was guilty and did all in their power to hasten 
the prosecution ; while the attitude of the Dowager- Princesse de 
Cond6 may be gauged from the following remarkable letter : 

"Great as was the pleasure it gave me to address you as 
Madame la Princesse, I shall have reason to regret this name so 
long as you are not justified of the atrocious accusation which 
will cause you to lose honour and life together, if your innocence 
is not proved. That is what I desire intensely, since I am unable 
to believe that the heart of a woman so well-born and so well 
brought up could cherish such wickedness against the prince 
who had done you so much honour in wooing and espousing 
you. This loss is so great for all the family that the peculiar 
honour which I received from his father invites me to deplore it 
for the rest of my life. I have been among the first to demand 
justice of our King (Henri III.), who is neither able nor willing 
to refuse it. Their Majesties have declined to receive your 
letters, and the cardinals * to reply to them. I have also spoken 
of your story to the Queen, mother of the King, who replied 
that she is so much the friend of honour and virtue, and is so 
overwhelmed with horror at the deed of which you are accused, 
that she does not intend to intervene. ... It is, therefore, your 
duty to endeavour to secure the arrest of your page, to whom, 
it is said, you caused a great deal of money to be given by your 
treasurer, and to whom one of your valets de chambre has con- 
fessed to have given the poison. This evidence makes matters 
very serious for you. 

" It is further said that you love your page so passionately 
that he used to occupy your husband's place, with so many other 
dreadful things that the Court is horrified ; and there is no con- 
versation now except at the expense of your reputation, which, 
I think, is very unfortunate for you. 

" Those who have counselled you (if such is the case) have 
done you more harm than if they had given you the same 
poison. Who would ever wish to see you, holding you to be 
without honour and without heart? Believe that God, who 

1 Presumably, the Cardinals de Bourbon and de Guise. 


threatens poisoners with having no share in the Kingdom of 
Heaven, will permit the truth to be known and justice to be 
executed. I have very humbly entreated the King, on your 
behalf, that the page should be arrested. His Majesty desires 
it and has written about it ; but it is not believed that you are 
anxious for it. I pray God that the contrary may be the 
case ; but, however that may be, you are at present the fable 
and the malediction of France, and, as I believe, of all the 
world, even to the barbarians, if they hear of it. But can it 
really be possible that you have deprived of life a prince who 
has so much honoured and loved you? If it is, you have 
no worse enemy than yourself, and have consented to the 
damnation of your soul. Time, which is the father of truth, 
will speedily enlighten us on the matter of your conduct, which, 
I trust, is altogether contrary to the belief which everywhere 

" When I knew that you were living as an honourable 
princess, and were respecting such a husband, a member of so 
great a family, I desired to do you service, and I esteemed 
myself happy. But now that I see you thus accused, if your 
justification does not appease this widespread rumour of so 
iniquitous a deed, I have received too much honour from the 
late Monseigneur my husband to be willing that any one 
should surpass me in the desire to be the most cruel enemy that 
you have ever had, although I shall nevertheless weep for your 
disgrace. . . . And if you have been instigated to this crime, 
as is reported, hasten to denounce those who have given you 
this pernicious counsel, for the sake of your life and honour ; 
and I shall implore God to punish the guilty and protect the 

" From Paris this IX. April 1588. 

"She who was formerly your mother-in-law to do you 


1 " Bibliotheque Nationale," Brienne Collection, published by Eugene Halphen 
in his introduction to Fiefbrun. 


The King of Navarre appoints a special commission for the trial of 
Brilland Brilland is put to the question His confessions under torture 
implicate the Princessede Conde", but on the following day he disavows them 
He is found guilty and condemned to be dismembered by horses The 
princess denies the competency of the court and appeals to the Parlement 
of Paris But the King of Navarre and the commissioners ignore the decrees 
of that body The commission directs that the princess shall be brought to 
trial She gives birth to a son The prosecution is dropped, but the princess 
remains in captivity The President de Thou interests himself in her case 
Means by which he obtains from Henri IV. the recognition of her son's 
rights, and, with them, the acknowledgment of the princess's innocence. 

AFTER ordering the arrest of the Princesse de Conde", 
the King of Navarre appointed a special commission, 
composed of twelve judges, for the trial of Brilland ; 
while, as the accused had protested against his examination 
being conducted by Fiefbrun, who appears to have been a 
personal enemy, Henri replaced him by Valette, Grand Pro- 
vost of Navarre, the more willingly since he was aware that 
Fiefbrun was a devoted partisan of the princess. 

The commissioners decided that Brilland should be put to 
the question. " On entering the torture-chamber, he protested, 
in the first place, that everything that he might say would be 
owing to the violence of the pain, and that he knew nothing 
about the poison, and that he was innocent. Nevertheless, 
when the torture was applied, he accused Madame in this 
sense, that she and he had plotted the poisoning of the late 
prince from the time that he [Conde] was aware of her 
behaviour, and that, on leaving this town, his Excellency had 
recommended him to keep watch over her actions, and to take 
care of her, declaring that, after she was brought to bed, he 
should chastise her for her misconduct ; and that when he 



[Brilland] informed her of this, the said project was resolved 
upon . . . ; that the said poison had been sent to the . . . ; 
that it had come from M. d'Epernon. He further said that 
La Doussiniere, maitre d 'hotel of his aforesaid lord, had 
administered the aforesaid poison in a chicken stuffed with 
eggs." * 

After this so-called confession had been extracted from him, 
the wretched man was released from the rack and taken back 
to prison. There, on the following day, he was visited by the 
commissioners, who ordered his confession to be read over to 
him. " He disavowed it ; protested that what he had said was 
false ; declared that what he had done was to escape the 
violence of the pain : exonerated those whom he had accused ; 
and maintained his innocence and that he was ignorant of the 
poison. At the same time, he confirmed the truth of all the 
aforesaid confessions that he had made and signed in the 
course of the trial, with the exception of that made under 
torture . . . and declared that he believed Madame la Princesse 
and those whom he had accused to be innocent, and that he 
knew nothing about the poison." 

Brilland was found guilty and condemned to the most 
barbarous of all forms of punishment to be dismembered by 
horses. Against this sentence he appealed. 

In the meanwhile, the Princesse de Conde had been 
formally charged with complicity in the murder of her 
husband and summoned before the commission. She refused 
to appear, denying the competency of the tribunal and claim- 
ing the privileges of the peerage. The judges overruled the 
princess's objections, whereupon she petitioned Henri III. that 
her case should be tried by the Grande Chambre of the 
Parlement of Paris. His Majesty having returned a favourable 
answer, she appealed to the Parlement, and obtained from that 
body a degree calling the affair before it, prohibiting "all 
judges and others whom it may concern from taking any 
further proceedings," and ordering that all the documents 

1 Memoir published by fedouard de Barthelemy, " la Princesse de Conde" : 
Charlotte Catherine de la Tre"moille ." 


relating to the case should be immediately forwarded to the 
registrar of the court, on the ground that the wives of the 
Princes of the Blood were no more able than their husbands to 
be tried save by the Parlement of Paris. At the same time, 
it appointed two celebrated advocates, Frangois de Montholon 
and Simon Marion, to act as counsel for the princess. 

The commissioners at Saint-Jean-d'Angely appear to have 
paid no attention to these injunctions. The princess again 
appealed to the Parlement, which issued a second decree, 
confirming the first and ordering the commissioners to appear 
themselves before it, to answer for their disobedience. The 
King of Navarre, who had no intention of surrendering the 
conduct of an affair of such great consequence to himself to 
the royal judges, from whom he had everything to fear, replied 
by issuing a counter-decree, which rejected the pretensions of 
the princess, maintained the competency of the tribunal he 
had appointed, and ordered the commissioners to prosecute 
the affair, "in conformity with the procedure which they had 
followed hitherto." 

In consequence, the sentence passed upon Brilland was 
confirmed, and on n July, 1588, the condemned man suffered 
his terrible fate. " He gave on this occasion," writes de Thou, 
" several proofs of madness, although he confessed that he was 
guilty of several other crimes, and that he recognized the 
justice of the sentence that the commissioners chosen to try 
him had pronounced. He began, however, to blaspheme in a 
scandalous fashion, so that those who assisted at the execution 
had great difficulty in making him return to his right senses, 
which caused people to think that his mind was not very 
sound, and that, in consequence, much reliance ought not to be 
placed on his evidence." 

On the same day, the fugitive page, Belcastel, was executed 
in effigy. As for Corbais, the valet de c/iambre, who had fled 
with the page and had been trapped so neatly outside the gates 
of Poitiers, we are not told what was decided upon in regard 
to him. He is not mentioned again in the proceedings. 

After the execution of Brilland, the proceedings against 


the Princesse de Cond were continued. The Prince de Conde 
and the Comte de Soissons demanded to be received as parties 
to the prosecution, and their request was granted by the 
commissioners. The princess once more appealed to the 
Parlement of Paris, which issued a third decree, forbidding 
Conti and Soissons to pursue the affair except before the 
Parlement, and ordering the arrest of the commissioners and 
the seizure and sequestration of their property. 

This decree, like the two which had preceded it, was treated 
with contempt, since the Parlement was, of course, powerless 
to enforce it, and on 19 July the commissioners directed that 
the princess should be brought to trial, but that, on account 
of her pregnancy, the trial should not begin until forty days 
after her confinement. In the meanwhile, she was very 
strictly guarded in the house of the Sieur de Saint-Mesme, 
governor of Saint-Jean-d'Angely, in which she had been shut 
up ever since her arrest, and only permitted to see a very few 
persons. "During the six months that she was enceinte," 
writes Fiefbrun, " she was retained in her lodging, subjected 
to a thousand slanders, and interrogated frequently by the 
chosen and incompetent judges, not as a great princess, but 
as a simple demoiselle, without any regard to her rank or 
her privileges. I leave all those who have heard it spoken 
about to imagine how many anguishes, how much despair, 
assailed her soul during that long time, in which she was 
not permitted to speak or to confer with any one save two or 
three of her intimates, without any other counsel or assistance." 

On i September, 1588, six months after the death of her 
husband, the captive princess gave birth to a son, Henri de 
Bourbon, second of that name, and third Prince de Cond. 
Fiefbrun gravely assures us that, at the moment of the boy's 
birth, " an extraordinary light was observed in the heavens, and 
that, on the day of his baptism, the sky being serene and cloud- 
less, a clap of thunder was heard, which several persons who 
understood meteors regarded as of good augury." 

Less importance, however, was attached to these happy 
prognostications than to a circumstance which appeared to 


remove the suspicion on which the charge against the princess 
had been principally based, namely, that she was with child by 
the page Belcastel, and had poisoned her husband to escape his 
just vengeance. This was the striking resemblance which the 
infant prince bore to the late Prince de Conde, which was 
admitted even by some who had until then been inclined to 
believe in the guilt of the princess. " To-day, at noon precisely," 
wrote the governor of Saint-Jean-d'Angely to the Due de 
Thouars, " Madame la Princesse, your sister, has been delivered 
of the most beautiful prince imaginable, and with more 
resemblance (so far as one can judge at his age) to the late 
Monseigneur, his father, than one can describe. For which I 
praise God, as do an infinite number of honourable people, your 

And Gilbert, the mayor of the town, wrote that " he had 
seen to-day the dead father born again in a child so like him in 
every respect that there was not a man living but was of 
opinion that never had son so closely resembled his father." 

Desmoustiers, the pastor of the Protestant Church of Saint- 
Jean-d'Angely, and Delacroix, the late prince's chaplain, bore 
similar testimony, the former declaring that the boy resembled 
his father " en tout et partout " ; while the latter concluded his 
letter by observing : " Thus does Our Lord (just Judge) cause 
the truth concerning the poisoning to be known." * 

Whether it was that the birth of a son had given the Princesse 
de Conde a certain prestige with the Protestants, disposed to 
see in this child a hope for the future, or that the want of proofs 
rendered the prosecution difficult to continue, or that the King 
of Navarre's attention was occupied by weightier matters, the 
investigation was not resumed, and the members of the 
commission which had been appointed to conduct it dispersed. 
The princess, nevertheless, remained in captivity, although she 
now enjoyed a certain amount of liberty, since she went twice a 
week to see her little son, who had been put out to nurse at 
Mazeroy, near Saint-Jean-d'Angely ; and a path across the 

1 Jfedouard de Barthelemy, " Charlotte Catherine de la Tremoille, Princesse de 


fields between Beaufief and the road leading to that town, 
which she generally followed, bears to this day the name of 
" le chemin de la princesse" 1 She was unable to obtain either 
the trial before the Parlement of Paris which she had repeatedly 
demanded or her liberty, and she appealed in vain to her 
relatives, to the neighbouring nobility, and to every person of 
importance whom chance happened to bring to Saint-Jean- 
d'Angely, to use their influence on her behalf. But neither her 
relatives nor the different nobles to whom she addressed her- 
self seemed disposed to take any active steps in her favour, and 
it was left to a magistrate, the President de Thou, to be the 
first to interest himself in the forsaken woman. 

In the summer of 1589, de Thou, charged with a mission 
from Henri IV., passed through Saint-Jean-d'Angely, and the 
princess, since she was unable either to receive or to visit him 
herself, had the happy idea of sending to him her daughter 
l6onore and the little Henri, with a request that he would 
accord them his protection. The kind heart of the worthy pre- 
sident was touched, and he promised to do everything in his 
power on behalf of the princess and her children. Several years 
passed, however, before circumstances permitted him to render 
any material assistance to his illustrious clients. 

Henri IV., as the King of Navarre had now become, did 
not appear to cast any doubt upon the legitimacy of the 
little prince, since he consented to stand godfather to him, and 
conferred upon him indirectly the government of Guienne, 
which he himself had held before his accession to the throne. 
But this informal acknowledgment carried little weight, and, 
so long as the Princesse de Conde was not exonerated from the 
terrible charge which was still hanging over her, the boy's 
position remained doubtful and precarious. Moreover, when, 
after the conversion of Henri IV. and the submission of Paris, 
tranquillity was to some degree restored, and the new King's 
authority better established, the late prince's brothers wished 
to recommence the proceedings against their sister-in-law, and 
urged his Majesty to declare her child incapable of succeeding 

1 E. Halphen, w Introduction to Fiefbrun." 


to the throne. For some time their animosity frustrated all the 
efforts of de Thou on behalf of the princess and her son, but at 
length he succeeded in outmanoeuvring them. 

In January, 1595, the King signed a new decree extending 
the provisions of an article of the Edict of Peace of 1577, which 
admitted Protestants to public office. The Parlement, however, 
refused to register it, except on the condition that no member 
of the Reformed Faith should be eligible for the post of 
governor or lieutenant-general of a province, and persisted in 
its refusal, notwithstanding all the efforts of the King to induce 
it to give way. The attitude of the Parlement placed Henri IV. 
in a very embarrassing position, and de Thou, adroitly seizing 
his opportunity, offered to secure the passing of the Edict, 
provided that the King would guarantee that the young Prince 
de Conde, the heir-presumptive to the throne, should be brought 
up in the Catholic Faith. His Majesty, at first received this 
proposition very ungraciously, but, seeing no other way out of 
the impasse^ he eventually accepted it, and directed the attorney- 
general to announce to the Parlement that the Prince de Conde 
" would forthwith be taken out of the hands of persons of the 
Protestant religion to be brought up in that of Rome." 

This announcement not only secured the registration of the 
Edict, but brought about the liberation of the Princesse de 
Conde, since to recognize the rights of the son was to acknow- 
ledge the innocence of the mother ; and now that the favour of 
the King appeared to be gained, the prisoner of Saint-Jean- 
d'Angely had no lack of supporters, A few weeks later (June, 
1595), Henri, Due de Montmorency, 1 after having taken at 
Dijon his oath as Constable of France, presented to Henri IV. 
a petition signed by Diane de France, 2 widow of Frangois, 

1 Until the death of his eldest brother Franjois, Marechal Due de Montmorency, 
in 1577, Henri de Montmorency had borne the title of Baron de Damville, which was 
now assumed by the third of the Montmorency brothers, until then known as the 
Seigneur de Menu 

2 Natural daughter of Henri II. by Filippa le Due, a Piedmontese girl of humble 
origin, and not of Diane de Poitiers, as several historians have wrongly stated. She 
married, first, Orazio Farnese, Duke of Castro, and, en secondes noces, Fra^ois de 
Montmorency, elder brother of the Constable. 


Marechal de Montmorency, Charles de Valois, Comte 
d'Auvergne, 1 the Due de Thouars, the Due de Bouillon, the 
Baron de Montmorency-Damville, and other relatives of the 
princess, praying him to direct that the accusations brought 
against her should be adjudicated upon. The King, by letters- 
patent, ordered the affair to be submitted to the Parlement of 
Paris, and that the minutes of the proceedings at Saint-Jean- 
d'Angely should be sent to the registrar of that body. At the 
same time, he ordered the princess to be set at liberty, on 
condition that the signatories to the petition should make 
themselves responsible for her appearance when called upon. 

In November, 1595, the princess and her son quitted Saint- 
Jean-d'Angely, in charge of Jean de Vivonne, Marquis de 
Pisani, whom the King had appointed the boy's gouvernettr* 
In the first days of December, they arrived at the Chateau of 
Saint-Germain, which had been provisionally assigned the little 
prince as a residence, and where, by Henri IV.'s desire, the 
Parlement of France came to salute him as first Prince of the 
Blood and heir-presumptive to the throne. 

In the following May, the trial of the princess if such a 
name could be applied to an affair, the issue of which was a 
foregone conclusion came on for hearing. The Prince de 
Conti and the Comte de Soissons had protested against 
everything that might be decided as illegal, on the ground that 
the judgment of the case belonged to the King alone, " holding 
his court garnished with peers, legitimately assembled." The 
Parlement summoned the two princes to appear before it, and 
show cause why their sister-in-law should not be pronounced 
innocent of the death of her husband. They refused, where- 
upon the court declared all the proceedings in Saintonge null 
and void and of no effect, " as contrary to the authority of the 
King, and to the decrees of his Court of Parlement, and useful 
in no way whatsoever to the furtherance of justice." Finally, on 
24 July, it issued a decree declaring the princess "pure and 

1 Afterwards Due d'Angouleme. He was a natural son of Charles IX. by Marie 
Touche, and had married Charlotte de Montmorency, daughter of the Connetable 
Henri de Montmorency. 


innocent," which, in accordance with letters-patent issued by 
the King, was registered by all the provincial Parlements. 

Thus terminated the mysterious affair of Charlotte Catherine 
de la Tremoille, Princesse de Cond. 

But, as an eighteenth-century historian very rightly points 
out, a case gained before the Parlement was not necessarily a 
victory at the tribunal of public opinion ; while over and over 
again that body had quashed the decrees of the lesser courts 
only to have its own verdict reversed by the judgment of 
history. The proceedings at Saint- Jean-d'Angely were declared 
null and of no effect, but the affair was not sent back for trial 
to the place where the supposed crime had been committed, 
nor submitted to a new examination. Thus, the Princesse de 
Cond, though pronounced innocent by the Law, was not 
exonerated by a large section of the public ; nor has time 
altogether effaced the suspicions which remained in so many 
minds. 1 

Since all the documents connected with the investigation at 
Saint-Jean-d'Angely were, by order of the Parlement, solemnly 
burned by the registrar of the Court, in the presence of the 
First President, Achille de Harlay, and the rapporteur^ 6douard 
Mole, until some fresh evidence shall be forthcoming, historians 
must renounce the hope of discovering the truth of this cause 
cttebre, and content themselves with more or less hazardous 

That the prince died from the effects of poison was 
undoubtedly the firm belief of practically all his contem- 
poraries. One writer of the time alone, so far as we are aware, 
Joseph Texeira, 2 takes a different view. In 1598, Texeira 
published an historical treatise, in Latin, dealing with the 
principal events of Henri IV.'s reign, 8 in the course of which 
he denied that the Prince de Conde" had been poisoned, and 
attributed his death to the injuries he had received at Coutras, 

1 Desormeaux. 

* He was a Portuguese Dominican monk, who settled in France, and became 
Almoner to Henri IV. and confessor to the Dowager-Princesse de Conde. 

* " Rerum ab Henrici Borbonis Franciae protoprincipis majoribus gestarum 


from which, as we have mentioned, he had suffered a great deal 
of pain. Texeira pretends that the doctors who performed the 
autopsy were divided as to the cause of death, and that the 
opinion of those who held that it was due to natural causes 
was adopted, after a solemn discussion, by the Faculty of 
Montpellier. But De"sormeaux, so devoted to the Cond6 
family, confesses that, despite his active researches, he was 
unable to find the proof of the two facts advanced by Texeira 
in the documents of the time, whether published or in 
manuscript, and if, after this avowal, he inclines to the same 
opinion, it is because he cannot bring himself to believe that 
Texeira, Almoner to the King and Councillor of State, was 
capable of a lie. 1 

But, admitting that the unfortunate prince was poisoned, 
what evidence is there to connect his wife with the crime ? 
Nothing whatever save the confessions of Brill and, made under 
torture, and which he subsequently denied, and the rumour of 
her undue intimacy with the page Belcastel, about which, 
singularly enough, nothing seems to have been heard until 
after her husband's death. On the other hand, there are the 
strongest possible reasons for believing her to be entirely 
innocent. She was, undoubtedly, deeply in love with her 
husband at the time of her marriage, and had given him, as we 
have seen, signal proofs of her devotion ; and it is, indeed, 
difficult to believe that in less than two years her affection 
could have been transformed into a murderous hatred. 
Moreover, she had apparently nothing to gain and much to lose 
by his death, for in the line of succession he stood next to the 
King of Navarre, a childless man, whose life was spent in 
the midst of perils. In conniving at the murder of the Prince 
de Cond, quite apart from the danger of detection and 
punishment, she would have deprived herself of the prospect of 
becoming Queen of France. 

1 " Recueil de 1' Academic des inscriptions et belles-lettres." Halphen. 


Education of Henri II. de Bourbon, Prince de Conde* Appearance and 
character of the young prince He is offered and accepts the hand of 
Charlotte de Montmorency, unaware that Henry IV. is desperately enamoured 
of the lady Conversation of the King with Bassompierre Marriage of 
Conde* and Mile, de Montmorency Infatuation of the King for the young 
princess Conde" refuses to accept the odious role assigned him, and " plays 
the devil " Violent scenes between him and the King He removes with 
his wife to Picardy Amorous escapade of Henri IV. Conde*, summoned to 
Court for the accouchement of the Queen, leaves the princess behind him 
Indignation of Henri IV. Conde" flies with his wife to Flanders Fury of 
the King, who sends troops in pursuit of the fugitives Refusal of the Arch- 
dukes to deliver them up Condd goes to Cologne, while the princess 
proceeds to Brussels. 

HENRI IV. charged himself with all the expenses of 
the little Prince de Conde's education ; the Cardinal 
de Gondi, Bishop of Paris, was entrusted with the 
task of instructing him in the Catholic faith, and on 24 January, 
1596, the boy attended Mass for the first time. 

To assist the gouverneur, the Marquis de Pisani, in his 
important duties, the King decided to appoint zsous-gouvernetir, 
and selected for that post Nicolas d'Aumale, Sieur d'Harcourt. 
D'Harcourt was a Protestant, and his appointment was 
probably due to Henri IV.'s desire to conciliate the Huguenots 
and to prove to them that, though the heir presumptive to the 
throne was to be brought up as a Catholic, there was no 
intention of separating him entirely from those of his father's 
faith. For preceptor, the prince was given Nicolas Lefebvre, 
Counsellor to the Departments of Waters and Forests, who was 
a devout, though a by no means intolerant, Catholic, and one 
of the most learned men of his time. 

The education of the boy would have progressed smoothly 




enough, but for the interference of the Dowager-Princesse de 
Conde, who aspired to direct everything herself, and continually 
countermanded the orders of Pisani, who was obliged to appeal 
to Henri IV. to uphold his authority. He complained that the 
princess refused to admit that anything was right that came 
from the King ; and there can be no doubt that the lady, who 
was aware that none but political motives had induced Henri 
IV. to put an end to her imprisonment, was but little disposed 
to respect his Majesty's wishes. 

Not content with quarrelling with Pisani, the princess 
endeavoured to create dissension between him and d'Harcourt, 
by insinuating to the latter that he was distrusted byj his 
superior, on account of his being a Huguenot. Then she tried 
to persuade the King to allow Texeira to be associated with 
d'Harcourt and Lefebvre in the education of her son a 
proposal which was greatly resented by the sous-gouverneur 
and the preceptor. 

The disputes to which his mother's meddlesome activity gave 
rise were very unfortunate for the young prince. And Pisani 
declared that it was " pitiable to see him thus guided, served, 
and treated," and expressed his fear " lest he should be found 
wanting, and that those who had been charged with his 
education should be blamed and despised for it." l 

In October, 1559, Pisani died suddenly, at the Abbey of 
Saint-Maur-des-Foss^s, 2 to which he had removed with his 
charge to escape a terrible epidemic probably typhus which 
was then ravaging Paris. The choice of his successor was not 
an easy one, for now that Queen Marguerite had given her 
consent to the dissolution of her union with the King, and 
negotiations had been set on foot for Henri's marriage with 
Marie de' Medici, the post was diminishing in importance. 
General astonishment, however, was expressed when it was 
known that the King had conferred it upon the Comte de Belin. 

1 Letter of Pisani to Villeroy, 5 March, 1598, cited by the Due d'Aumale. 

2 The Abbey of Saint-Maur-des-Fosses, situated a little beyond the Bois de 
Vincennes/had been secularized in 1533, and afterwards sold to Catherine de' Medici, 
from whose executors the Dowager-Princesse de Conde had recently purchased it. 
It afterwards became one of the favourite country-seats of the Condes. 



The count was a former Leaguer, Governor of Paris under the 
Due de Mayenne, and had been one of the first of that party to 
attach himself to the cause of Henri IV. He had since 
testified great devotion to the monarch, but he was but little 
esteemed by the public, and had lost any military prestige he 
ever possessed by the promptitude with which he had capitu- 
lated at Arques, in 1596. Some privileged courtiers ventured 
to remonstrate with his Majesty on this appointment, to whom 
he drily replied : " When I wanted to make a King of my 
nephew, I gave him Pisani ; when I wanted to make a subject 
of him, I gave him Belin." 

The new gouverneur showed himself infinitely more com- 
plaisant towards the Princesse de Conde than had his pre- 
decessor ; indeed, Tallemant des Reaux declares that they 
" made belles galanteries together," though no attention need be 
paid to the unsupported statement of this incorrigible scandal- 
monger. He was also far more indulgent with his pupil than 
Pisani had ever been a change which is generally believed to 
have had a very injurious effect upon the character of the young 
prince, who was one of those lads who require a strong hand 
over them. Thanks, however, to the perseverance of Lefebvre, 
his studies were not ipermitted to suffer, and he received an 
education both sound and varied. He became a tolerable Latin 
scholar, spoke Italian fluently, understood Spanish, wrote his 
own language correctly a rare accomplishment in those days 
and had some knowledge of theology and mathematics. In 
appearance, he was rather below the middle height, with a 
slight, well-knit figure, and " the strongly marked features which 
generally distinguished the Bourbons." 1 He was passionately 
devoted to the chase and an excellent horseman ; nor does he 
seem to have lacked the courage of his race, since in February, 
1607, when the prince was in his nineteenth year, Henri IV. was 
obliged to exercise his authority to prevent a duel to which he 
had challenged the Due de Nevers. 

With the exception of this incident, his early youth appears 
to have been very uneventful, for, since France was now at 

1 Cardinal Bentiviglio, " Relazioni." 


peace, no opportunity occurred for his initiation into the art of 
war. The King kept him constantly about his person, less 
through any affection for his kinsman than from a desire to pro- 
tect him against the influence of ambitious and scheming persons 
who might seek to use him for the furtherance of their own 
ends. But the young prince did not possess the qualities which 
would have fitted him to shine in the gay and licentious society 
of the time, being shy and awkward, particularly in the presence 
of ladies, while his revenues were not at all commensurate with 
his rank ; and after the birth of sons to Henri IV. had deprived 
him of all hope of the throne, he seems to have occupied a very 
inconspicuous position at Court 

Condi's comparative lack of fortune made a wealthy marriage 
a necessity, and when, at the beginning of the year 1609, the 
King announced his intention of bestowing upon him the hand 
of Charlotte de Montmorency, daughter of the Connetable Henri 
de Montmorency, 1 and one of the richest heiresses in France, 
he accepted the offer with a gratitude which was not diminished 
by the fact that Mile, de Montmorency united to the advantages 
of wealth remarkable personal attractions. 

There was, indeed, no more lovely girl at Court than the 
daughter of the Constable. Cardinal Bentiviglio, the Papal 
Nuncio at Brussels, who saw her towards the close of the same 
year, has left us the following description of her : 

" She was then sixteen years old, and her loveliness was ad- 
judged by all men to accord with the fame thereof. She was 
very fair ; her eyes and all her features full of charm ; an 
ingenuous grace in all her gestures and in her manner of speak- 
ing. Her beauty owed its power to itself alone, since she did not 
bring to its aid any of the artifices of which women are wont to 
make use." 2 

It is certain, however, that Conde" would have received the 
proposition in a very different spirit if he had been aware of the 
reasons which had prompted the King to make it ; for it was 

1 By his second wife, Louise de Budos, a woman of middling birth, but of such 
extraordinary beauty that some persons attributed it to supernatural agency. 

2 " Relazioni" 


not the young prince's interests, but his own convenience, that 
his Majesty had in mind. 

One day in January, 1609, it happened that Henri IV. was 
passing through the great gallery of the Louvre, when he came 
upon a bevy of young ladies of the Court practising for a ballet, 
nymphs of Diana, armed for the chase. Among them was Mile, 
de Montmorency, whose charms, enhanced by the classical 
costume she was wearing, made so profound an impression upon 
the susceptible monarch that he was quite unable to take his 
eyes off her. 

Shortly after this encounter, his Majesty was laid up with an 
attack of gout Several of the ladies of the Court came to visit 
him, and among those who were most assiduous in their attentions 
was the Duchesse d'Angoulme, who was invariably accompanied 
by Mile, de Montmorency, her niece. Henri IV. was fifty-five, 
and his hair and beard, whitened by a life of peril and hardship, 
made him look considerably older. But his heart was still 
young, and he was as amorous as he had been at twenty. 
From the first, he took the keenest pleasure in Mile, de Mont- 
morency's society ; soon he was hopelessly in love, although 
for some time he appears to have deluded himself with the 
belief that his interest in the damsel was of a paternal nature 

The fair Charlotte was already bethrothed, with the King's 
approval, to Frangois de Bassompierre, a handsome young 
noble of Lorraine, high in favour with his Majesty, and one of 
the most redoubtable lady-killers of the Court. Henri, however, 
having himself become a candidate for the lady's affections, had 
no mind to endure a rival so formidable as the fascinating 
Bassompierre, and, accordingly, decided that the projected 
marriage must be broken off. 

One night, when Bassompierre was on duty in the King's 
chamber, endeavouring to soothe his master's pain by reading 
to him M, d'Urfe"'s sentimental romance "1'Astr^e," then at the 
height of its vogue, Henrii informed him, after some preamble, that 
he intended to marry him to Mile. d'Aumale, and to revive the 
duchy of that name in his favour. "You wish then, Sire, to 


give me two wives ! " exclaimed the astonished courtier. 
"Baron," rejoined the King, "I wish to speak to you as a 
friend. I am not only in love, but distracted about Mile, de 
Montmorency. If you marry her and she loves you, I shall 
hate you. If she loves me, you will hate me. It were better 
that the marriage were broken off, lest it should mar the good 
understanding between us, and destroy the affection I entertain 
for you. I have decided to marry her to my nephew, the Prince 
de Conde, and to keep her near the person of my wife. She 
will be the solace and support of the old age upon which I am 
about to enter. I shall give her to my nephew, who is only 
twenty, and prefers hunting a thousand times to ladies' society ; 
and I desire no other favour from her than her affection, without 
pretending to anything further." 

Bassompierre, who was above all things a courtier, seeing 
that the King was determined, and that, unless he submitted 
with a good grace, he would lose both his bride and the royal 
favour, protested his willingness to obey, adding the hope that 
" this new affection would bring his Majesty as much joy as it 
would occasion him pain, but for his consideration for his 
Majesty." 1 His chagrin was, nevertheless, intense, and when, 
next morning, the young lady having been acquainted with 
the change that had been made in the disposition of her hand, 
greeted her too facile lover with an expressive shrug of her 
pretty shoulders and a glance of the most withering disdain, his 
grief and mortification were such that he fled precipitately to 
his lodging, where, he assures us, he spent three days without 
food or sleep. 

The betrothal of Conde and Charlotte de Montmorency 
took place shortly afterwards (2 March, 1609), in the great 
gallery of the Louvre. The Constable gave his prospective 
son-in-law 100,000 ecus ; while the King granted him an 
increase of his pension and a present of 1 50,000 livres. The 
bride received 18,000 livres from his Majesty, for the purchase 
of jewellery, as well as a magnificent trousseau. Owing to 
the necessity of obtaining the Papal dispensation for the union 

1 Marechal de Bassompierre, " Memoires." 


of cousins, 1 the marriage-ceremony was postponed until 16 May, 
when it was celebrated at Chantilly, " very inexpensively, but 
very gaily." 

This gaiety was not of long duration. Scarcely had the 
young couple rejoined the Court, which was then at Fontainebleau, 
than the King began to lay the closest siege to the princess's 
heart and strove by every means in his power to gain her 
affection. The girl, flattered by the homage of her Sovereign, 
of which she perhaps did not divine the end, was far from dis- 
couraging his attentions, and, if we are to believe Tallemant des 
Reaux, appeared one evening on the balcony of her apartments 
in a peignoir, with her hair falling over her shoulders, in order 
to please the King, who was transported with admiration. 
" Dieu ! " cried she, " how foolish he is ! " And she laughed 

Her husband, however, did not laugh. The affair had 
become a public scandal Even in the streets, people laughed 
and jested about the infatuation of the King, and " talked with 
the utmost freedom of his Majesty and of the corruption and 
debaucheries of his Court." 2 If Conde had little love for his 
wife, he was exceedingly jealous of his honour, and, to Henri's 
intense chagrin, absolutely declined to accept the odious role he 
had intended for him, and began, in his Majesty's phrase, "to 
play the devil." 3 

In vain, the King endeavoured to reassure him as to the 
innocence of his intentions ; in vain, the Constable, at his 
Majesty's request, made the strongest representations to his son- 
in-law. Conde was deaf to all appeals, and, towards the middle 
of June, carried off his wife to Valery, in the hope that, during 
his absence, the King's passion might cool or be diverted to 
some fresh object. 

Henri IV. was in despair. In obedience to his orders, the 

1 The Dowager-Princesse de Conde was, through her mother, a niece of the 


3 " Mon ami M. le Prince (Condi) est icy qui faict le diable ; vous seriez en 
colere et auriez honte des choses qu'il dit de moi ; enfin, la patience m'echappera et 
je me resous de bien parler a lui" (Henri IV. to Sully, 9 June, 1609). 


poet Malherbe consented " to degrade his muse to the office of 
pander,", 1 and composed stanzas wherein the King, under the 
name of Alcandre, cries : 

II faut que je cesse de vivre 
Si je veux cesser de souffrir ; 

and the princess, under the name of Orante, replies : 

La coeur outree du meme ennui, 
Jurait que s'il mourait pour elle, 
Elle mourait aussi pour lui." 

Conde and his wife remained at Valery until the first week 
in July, when they were compelled to return to Court, in order 
to attend the marriage of C^sar de Vendome, Henri IV.'s eldest 
son by Gabrielle d'Estr^es, and Mile, de Mercosur. The King's 
passion became more violent than ever, and his conduct would 
have been ludicrous to the last degree had it been less culpable. 
Not only did he continue to commission Malherbe to bombard 
the princess with elegies and sonnets, but " one saw him alter in 
less than no time his hair, his beard, and his countenance." He 
who had hitherto been distinguished from the nobles of his Court 
by the simplicity and even negligence of his attire, might now 
be seen dressing and adorning himself with as much care as the 
youngest and most dandified of his courtiers, and, on one occasion, 
he appeared at a tilting-match wearing " a scented ruff, a doublet 
with sleeves of Chinese satin, and the colours of the Princesse 
de Conde, who called him ' her knight.' " 3 " The King is well 
and grows younger every day," wrote Malherbe to his friend 

The unfortunate husband began to " play the devil " again, 
and, though Henri, in the hope of bending him to his will, had 
the meanness to give orders to Sully that the instalment of his 
pension due at Midsummer should not be paid him, and to 
threaten him with even more severe measures unless he mended 
his ways, his complaints grew louder than ever. Violent scenes 
took place between him and the King, in one of which Conde 

1 Andr^ Chenier, "les Poesies de Malherbe." 

2 Henrard, "Henri IV. et la Princesse de Conde." 
1 Tallemant des Reaux, ' Historiettes." 


allowed the word " tyranny " to escape him, and his Majesty, 
losing all control of himself, replied that the only occasion on 
which he had merited such a reproach was when he had recog- 
nized the prince for what he was not that is to say, a legitimate 

Finally, Conde* took his wife back to Valery, and, though 
Henri employed every means in his power to induce him to 
return, it was to no purpose. " Beaumont," writes the King to 
the Constable, on 23 September, "returned yesterday, and says 
that he found our friend (Conde) more unmanageable than ever. 
He leaves Valery this morning for Muret." l 

Muret was a chateau belonging to Conde in Picardy, not far 
from the Flemish frontier, and the prince's pretext for removing 
thither was the excellent hunting which the neighbourhood 
afforded. Early in November, he and his wife went to join a 
hunting-party at the Abbey of Verteuil, and, while they were 
there, M. de Traigny, governor of Amiens, invited the Princesse 
de Conde and the dowager-princess, who was with her, to dine 
at his country-house, situated some three leagues from the 
abbey. We will allow Lenet, the faithful servant of the Conde"s, 
who had the story from the princess's own lips, to relate what 
followed : 

" It would seem very much as though this party had been 
concerted with the King, but he was, at any rate, informed of 
it by the Sieur de Traigny, who always abetted him in his 
pleasures, so that the princesses, while on their way thither, saw 
a carriage pass with the King's liveries and a great number of 
hounds. The princess-mother, who was passionately attached 
to her son, and watched the actions of the young princess very 
narrowly, feared that, under the pretext of some hunting 
excursion, the King had prepared for them a rendezvous. She 
summoned the huntsmen, whom she saw at a distance ; but one 
of them, advancing before the others, came to the door of the 
coach to answer the princess's questions, and disarmed her 
fears, by telling her that a captain of the hunt, who was in the 
neighbourhood to celebrate the feast of St. Hubert, had placed 
1 Cited by the Doc d'Aumale, " Histoire des Princes de Conde." 


the relays where she saw them, because he was hunting a stag 
with some of his friends. Whilst the princess-dowager was 
speaking to the huntsman, the young princess, who was at the 
coach-door, glanced at the others, who stood some little distance 
off, and perceived that one of them was the King, who, the 
better to disguise himself under the livery he wore, had put a 
large black patch over his left eye and held two greyhounds in a 
leash. The princess told us that she had never been more 
astonished in her life, and that she did not dare to mention 
what she had seen to her mother-in-law, from fear lest she should 
inform her husband. At the same time, she confessed to us 
that this gallantry had not displeased her, and, continuing her 
story, she told us that, having arrived at Traigny and entered 
the salon, she remarked upon the extreme beauty of the view, 
whereupon Madame de Traigny said to her that, if she cared to 
put her head out of a window which she would show her, she 
would see one still more agreeable. Advancing to it, she 
perceived that the King was placed at the window of a pavilion 
opposite, he having preceded her after having had the pleasure 
of seeing her on the road, and that he held all the time one 
hand to his lips, as though to send her a kiss, and the other to 
his heart, to show her that he had been wounded. 

"The surprise of this rencontre did not allow the princess 
time to reflect what she should do, and she retired abruptly 
from the window, exclaiming, * del! what is this? Madame, 
the King is here ! ' On which the princess-dowager, greatly 
incensed, divided her words between giving directions for the 
horses to be immediately harnessed to her coach and loading 
Traigny and his wife with reproaches. Even the King, who 
hastened to the spot on hearing the commotion, did not escape 
her anger. The enamoured prince employed all the entreaties 
which his passion could dictate, and all the promises possible, 
to induce her to remain, but to no purpose ; for the princesses 
re-entered their coach and returned forthwith to Verteuil, where 
that same night the princess-mother broke the promise which 
the King had extracted from her, and related the whole story 
to her son." 


A few days later, Conde received a letter from the King, 
written in a strain half-coaxing and half-menacing, summoning 
him to Court, to be present at the approaching accouchement 
of the Queen. Etiquette required that the first Prince of the 
Blood should be in attendance on these auspicious occasions, 
and it was impossible for him to refuse. But he came alone. 
Henri was furious, and his anger and disappointment rendered 
him so insupportable to all about him, that Marie de' Medici 
herself begged Conde to send for his wife, promising to keep 
the strictest watch over her. Such was the King's wrath that 
he apparently could not trust himself to interview his cousin 
personally, but sent for the prince's secretary Virey, 1 and told 
him that, if Conde desired a divorce from his wife, he would not 
oppose it, and would even undertake to obtain the parents' 
consent. The prince, it should be explained, had no such wish, 
but, a few months before, after a stormy interview with the 
King, he had chanced to observe to the Due de Villeroy, whom 
he had met on leaving the royal presence, and who had inquired 
the cause of his agitation, that, rather than consent to his own 
dishonour, or expose himself any longer to his Majesty's anger, 
he would get himself " dismarried " ; and these hasty words, 
which had been duly reported to the King, had been wrested 
into a request for a divorce. 2 

Virey withdrew, and the next day returned and handed the 
King a very skilfully-worded memorial from Conde, which had 
been drafted for him by the President de Thou, wherein he 
begged his Majesty to appoint such persons as he might think 
fit to assist him with their counsel in this delicate affair; 
adding that, until the matter was decided, he did not doubt 
that the King would think it necessary that the princess should 
remain at Muret. 

1 Claude Enoch Virey (1566-1636). He was a Doctor of Laws, had fought as a 
Catholic volunteer in Henri IV.'s army at the battles of Arques and Ivry and at the 
sieges of Paris and Rouen, and was a poet of some distinction. The President de 
Harlay, whose life he had saved on the Day of the Barricades, procured him a post 
on the educational staff of the young Conde, and he was subsequently appointed his 
private secretary. 

* Due d'Aumale, "Histoire des Princes de CondeV' 


This answer completely disconcerted the amorous monarch's 
plans, and made him more angry than ever. Ignoring the 
memorial, he turned furiously upon Virey, to whose influence 
he attributed the firm tone which Conde maintained, reproached 
him bitterly with the counsels he had given the prince, threatened 
him with his severe displeasure, and, finally, dismissed him, 
bidding him tell his master that, if he declined to yield to his 
will or attempted the slightest violence against the princess, he 
would give him cause to rue it. He] added that, had he been 
still only King of Navarre, he would at once have challenged 
the prince to a duel. 

After receiving the King's message, Cond6 decided to feign 
submission, and accordingly begged his Majesty's leave to 
return to Muret to fetch his wife. His request, as we may 
suppose, was readily granted, and on 25 November, the day on 
which the ill-fated Henriette-Marie was born, he set out for 

On the evening of the 29th, while Henri was at the card- 
table, word was brought him that a messenger had arrived 
from Picardy with intelligence that Monsieur le Prince had early 
that morning left Muret, in a coach with his wife, accompanied 
by his chamberlain, the Baron de Rochefort, Virey, and two of 
the princess's ladies. Conde" had given out that they were 
bound on a hunting-expedition ; but the messenger an archer 
of the Guard named Laperriere had learned from his father, 
who was in the prince's service, that the party had taken the 
road to Flanders. 

The consternation of the King knew no bounds. The 
moment he learned the news, he at once summoned his most 
trusted counsellors, who found him pacing up and down the 
room, with downcast eyes and hands clasped behind his back. 
As each arrived, he informed him of what had occurred and 
demanded his advice, refusing to give him even a moment for 
reflection. The prudent Sully advised his master to let the 
matter rest, pointing out that, in that case, the fugitive prince, 
being unable to draw his pension, would soon be reduced to sue 
for terms ; whereas, if Henri showed anxiety to get him back, 


the enemies of France would be only too ready to assist him, in 
order to spite the King. 

The infatuated monarch, however, was in no mood to follow 
such counsel, and that very night, without pausing to reflect on 
the probable effect of such a step, wrote to the governors of 
Marie and Guise, directing them to send the whole strength of 
their garrisons to capture Conde, " wherever he might be ; " and 
despatched La Chausse"e, an officer of the Guards, with orders 
to pursue the prince even over the frontier, " and if he should 
discover him in any town beyond his dominions to address him- 
self to the governor and magistrates of that city, and to inform 
them that his Majesty had given him authority to require and 
entreat them to have the prince and his suite arrested and well 
guarded, assuring them that, in acting thus, they would be 
doing great service to the Archdukes." * 

La Chausse'e came up with the fugitives at Landrecies, the 
first Spanish fortress in Flanders, which they had reached in 
the early morning of the soth. Since leaving Muret, they had 
only rested for a few minutes at a village inn ; the almost 
impassable state of the roads had compelled them to abandon 
their coach before crossing the Somme, and the unfortunate 
princess had passed fifteen hours on the crupper of Rochefort's 
saddle, under a continuous downpour of rain. 

La Chaussee produced the royal warrant for the arrest of 
Conde, but the authorities of Landrecies refused to allow it to 
be executed until they had referred the matter to the Archdukes. 
Rochefort, at the prince's request, was permitted to proceed 
to Brussels to beg the Archdukes to grant his master a safe- 
conduct through their dominions, in order that he might visit 
his sister, the Princess of Orange, 2 at Breda. An envoy from 

1 In May, 1598, Philip II. had ceded the Netherlands, the Tranche-Comic", and the 
Charolais to his daughter Isabelle. The Archduke Albert, brother of the Emperor 
Rudolph, at that time governor of the Netherlands, renounced Holy Orders in order 
to marry the princess ; and the pair had since exercised a sort of vice-regal authority, 
with very extensive powers. Their contemporaries always called them "the Arch- 

2 leonore de Bourbon had married Philip William, of Nassau, Prince of Orange, 
eldest son of William the Silent, in 1606. 



Henri IV. arrived almost simultaneously to denounce the prince 
as a traitor and an enemy to the public peace, and to request 
their Highnesses to permit his arrest, or, at least, not to grant 
him an asylum in Flanders. 

The Archdukes found themselves in a very embarrassing 
position, and took refuge in a compromise. They declined to 
allow the rights of nations to be violated by the arrest of 
Conde, and granted his wife permission to continue her journey, 
but gave orders that the prince should quit the Netherlands 
within three days. 

Rochefort returned to Landrecies with this answer on the 
night of 2-3 December, and, without waiting for the day, 
Conde quitted the town and set out for Cologne, a city whose 
ancient liberties protected him from any attempt at moles- 
tation by his enraged Sovereign. On the following morning, 
the princess, under the charge of the faithful Virey, started for 
Brussels, where she arrived the same night, and was lodged at 
the H6tel de Nassau, the residence of the Prince of Orange. 

The Prince and Princess of Orange were at Breda, and 
their palace was only occupied by a few servants. Virey was 
very uneasy at the situation in which he found himself, since 
Madame la Princesse had for the moment no protector at hand 
but himself, and he feared lest Praslain, the envoy whom 
Henri IV. had despatched to Brussels, should take advantage 
of his helplessness and carry her off. Such, indeed, was 
Praslain's intention, but, before resorting to this extreme step, 
he wished to endeavour to obtain the consent of the Prince of 
Orange, for which purpose he set off for Breda. There he was 
received by the princess, who told him what she thought of his 
proposal in such very forcible language, that he was glad to 
beat a retreat. He hastened back to Brussels, but, on arriving 
there, found a guard, which Virey had contrived to obtain, 
posted before the Hotel de Nassau, and was obliged to abandon 
all idea of a coup de main. 


Cond summoned by the Archdukes to Brussels He places himself 
under the protection of Philip III. of Spain Mission of the Marquis de 
Cceuvres to Brussels His attempted abduction of the Princesse de Conde' 
Conde* declared guilty of high treason He leaves Brussels for Milan Henri 
IV. and his Ministers threaten the Archdukes with war if the princess is not 
given up Despatches of the Spanish Ambassador to his Court Conde* at 
Milan Assassination of Henri IV. Embarrassing position of Conde" in 
regard to Spain He returns to Brussels, but declines to see his wife His 
return to France He contemplates the dissolution of his marriage, but 
ultimately consents to a formal reconciliation with the princess His turbulent 
conduct during the regency of Marie de' Medici His arrest and imprison- 
ment The princess magnanimously shares her husband's captivity 
Dangerous illness of the prince Birth of Anne Genevieve de Bourbon 
Release of the Conde's. 

TOWARDS the end of December, the Archdukes 
summoned Cond6 to Brussels, under the pretext 
that an interview with the French representative 
might induce him to return to France. But the real reason 
was that it had been suggested to them by Spinola 1 that, if 
the prince could be persuaded to place himself under the pro- 
tection of Spain, he might be utilized as a very valuable 
instrument against France. 

On his arrival in Brussels, Conde expressed himself willing 
to return, if guaranteed a place of surety in his government 
of Guienne; but Henri IV. refused even to consider such a 
proposal, and insisted on an immediate and unconditional 
return, promising him only a free pardon. At the instance 
of Spinola, who had rapidly acquired considerable influence 
over him, Cond thereupon decided to appeal to the King of 

1 Spinola, who had come to the Netherlands in 1602, at the head of a force 
maintained, like the old condottieri, at his own expense, had, after the reduction of 
Ostend, been given the command of all the Spanish and Italian troops in Flanders. 



Spain for protection. The Council of State at Madrid was 
unanimously of opinion that the request should be acceded to ; 
and Philip III. accordingly charged his ambassador at the 
French Court, Don Inigo de Cardenas, to inform Henri IV. 
that he had taken the Prince de Conde* under his protection, 
"with the object of acting as a mediator in the matter and 
contributing everything in his power towards the repose and 
happiness of the Very Christian King." The remainder of 
the despatch, however, leaves no doubt that his Catholic 
Majesty was animated by very different sentiments towards 
Henri IV. from those which Don Inigo was instructed to 
express. 1 At the same time, Philip wrote to Conde' to assure 
him of his sympathy, and despatched one of his Council, the 
Count An6var, to Brussels, with instructions to watch over the 
interests of the prince, who, on his side, engaged to make no 
terms with Henri IV. without the consent of Spain. 

Meanwhile, the Conne"table de Montmorency, either because 
he really believed the reports which were being industriously 
circulated by French agents in Brussels that Conde was ill-treat- 
ing his wife, or, more probably, out of dishonourable servility 
to the King, had intervened in the affair, and despatched to 
Flanders one of his relatives, Louis de Montmorency-Boutteville, 
father of the unfortunate gentleman whose execution for duel- 
ling caused such a painful sensation seventeen years later. 
Boutteville was the bearer of a letter to the Archdukes, in which 
the Constable complained bitterly of the alleged sufferings of 
his daughter, and besought their Highnesses to restore his 
beloved child to him. His request was refused, and the reports 
as to Conde's ill-treatment of his wife would appear to have 
been altogether devoid of foundation. Nevertheless, the young 
princess, who had little love for her husband and naturally 
resented the strict surveillance to which she was subjected, was 
becoming more and more dissatisfied with her life at Brussels. 
If she had done nothing to encourage the advances of Henri IV., 
she had certainly not been insensible to the homage of so 

1 Simancas Collection, cited by the Due d'Aumale, " Histoire des Princes de 




great a monarch, and many years later was wont to recall it 
with pride and emotion. Moreover, intrigues of all kinds were 
at work to further the King's odious designs. The wife of the 
French Ambassador at Brussels, Brulart de Berny, visited 
Madame la Princesse constantly and enlarged on the glories of 
which she was deprived by her husband's jealousy ; two of her 
waiting-women had been bribed and added their persuasions to 
those of the Ambassadress ; while Girard, a secretary of the 
Constable, was continually travelling to and fro between Paris, 
Chantilly, and Brussels, bearing letters and instructions. 

Towards the end of January, Henry IV. despatched an envoy 
extraordinary to Brussels, in the person of Annibal d'Estrees, 
Marquis de Cceuvres, brother of the beautiful and ill-fated 
Gabrielle. Cceuvres very speedily perceived that there was 
small likelihood of being able to persuade the Archdukes to 
surrender the princess to her relatives, or rather to the King, 
and, on 9 February, wrote to his Majesty to obtain his consent 
to a plan which he had formed for the abduction of the young 
lady. Henri immediately sent the required authorization, but, 
unfortunately for the success of the enterprise, the mere prospect 
of once more beholding the object of his passion transported 
him to such a degree that he was quite unable to conceal his 
joyous anticipations, either from his entourage or even from his 
long-suffering consort The jealous Queen took advantage of 
this indiscretion to acquaint the Nuncio Ubaldini, a devoted 
friend of the Medici family, with what was in the wind ; the 
Nuncio, in his turn, communicated the news to the Spanish 
Ambassador, who lost no time in sending a courier to Brussels 
to put Spinola on his guard. 

Spinola, fearing lest Conde, if informed of the proposed 
abduction of his wife, might create a scandal, contented himself 
with arousing his suspicions sufficiently to induce him to beg 
the Archdukes to receive the princess into their own palace. To 
this their Highnesses readily consented, and 14 February was 
fixed for the departure of Madame la Princesse and her attend- 
ants from the Hdtel de Nassau. 

Cceuvres was naturally much disconcerted on learning of 


this change of residence, and recognizing that, were the lady 
once within the walls of the archducal palace, any such measures 
as he was contemplating would be foredoomed to failure, 
determined to make his attempt on the night of the I3th. 

His plan was a bold one. The Princesse de Conde's apart- 
ments abutted on the garden of the Hotel de Nassau, which was 
separated from the ramparts only by a narrow street. Under 
cover of the confusion and bustle which the preparations for her 
removal on the morrow would be sure to entail, she was to 
descend, or be carried into the garden, pass through it, and gain 
the street. A breach sufficient to admit of her egress was to be 
made in the ramparts, and on the far side of the moat, which 
was empty at this time, a body of horse, under the command of 
Longueval de Manicamp, governor of La Fere, would be wait- 
ing to escort her to the frontier, while another troop would cover 
their flight. Some difference of opinion seems to exist as to 
whether the lady herself was privy to this scheme ; but the fact 
that one of her waiting-women had carried that afternoon to 
the French Embassy a quantity of her mistress's clothes would 
certainly seem to point to her complicity. 

It was only a few hours before the moment fixed for the 
execution of Cceuvres's design that Spinola learned of his 
intention, through the treachery of a French adventurer in the 
marquis's pay. This time he felt obliged to inform Conde, who 
hastened to the Archdukes to demand a guard, after which, 
beside himself with anger and excitement, he hurried hither and 
thither, calling upon every one he met to assist him to protect 
his wife. Soon the Hotel de Nassau was surrounded by soldiers, 
reinforced by five hundred armed citizens, whom the Prince of 
Orange had procured from the Burgomaster, while cavalry, 
preceded by torch-bearers, patrolled the neighbouring streets. 
These warlike preparations brought almost the whole city to 
the spot, and " bred one of the greatest tumults ever known in 
Brussels ; and it was commonly reported and believed that the 
King of France was himself in person at the gates to carry 
away the princess by force." l 

1 Cardinal Bentivoglio, " Relazioni," 


The same day, about three o'clock in the afternoon, Henri 
IV. had quitted Paris, " very jovial and much bedecked, contrary 
to his usual custom," accompanied by four coaches, " to go to 
meet his nymph," 1 and proceeded to Saint-Germain-en-Laye. 
But the nymph did not arrive, and, in her stead, came a mud- 
bespattered courier with the news of the failure of the attempt 
The discomfited monarch returned to Paris in a very ill-humour, 
and wrote a most unkind letter to Cceuvres, whom he stigma- 
tized as " a blockhead and a fool." 

That enterprising nobleman had, it would appear, very 
narrowly escaped capture, having actually entered the Hotel de 
Nassau before he learned that he had been betrayed. However, 
being possessed of a large fund of assurance, he resolved to 
brave the matter out, and early next morning presented himself 
at the palace of the Archdukes, to complain of the insult put 
upon the King, his master, by the precautionary measures 
adopted the previous evening, and of the caluminous reports 
that were being circulated concerning himself. The Archduke 
Albert replied that he himself had given no credit to these 
reports, but that, as the Prince de Cond6 had insisted on the 
necessity for a guard, he had felt obliged to accede to his 

On leaving the palace, Coeuvres, accompanied by the French 
Ambassador, Brulart de Berny, the Sieur de Preaulx, counsellor 
to the Parlement of Paris, and Manicamp, governor of La Fere, 
proceeded to the Hotel de Nassau, where, with much solemnity, 
he handed Conde a formal indictment declaring him guilty of 
high treason, unless he forthwith made his submission to the 
King. To this indictment the prince at once drew up a reply, 
wherein he affirmed that " he had left France to save his life 
and his honour ; that he was prepared to return if any offer 
should be made him which would enable him to reside there in 
security ; that he would live and die faithful to the King ; but 
that, when the King should stray from the ways of justice and 

1 Letter of Jehan Simon, secretary to the Flemish Ambassador in Paris, to 
Pretorius, Secretary of State at Brussels, cited by Henrard, " Henri IV. et la Prin- 
cesse de Conde." 


should proceed against him by the ways of violence, he held all 
such acts as should be done against him null and invalid." 1 

After this, Conde, fearing or feigning to fear, that it was 
now no longer safe for him to remain in the Netherlands, 
determined, on the advice of Spinola and the Spanish Ambassador 
at Brussels, to seek an asylum at Milan. Accordingly, having 
exacted a solemn promise from the Archdukes that his wife 
should not quit their palace without his consent, on 21 February, 
he left Brussels secretly, in disguise, accompanied by Rochefort, 
Virey, and one of Spinola's officers named Fritima, who was to 
act as guide and interpreter. The season was an unusually 
severe one, and the travellers suffered many hardships, but on 
the last day in March they reached Milan in safety 

The Spaniards attached great importance to the possession 
of Conde's person, for, as first Prince of the Blood and next in 
succession to the King's children, he might prove of the highest 
value to them in exciting troubles in France, should Henri IV. 
persist in his hostile projects against Spain, while, in the event 
of negotiations, his extradition might be dearly sold. In 
accordance with instructions from Madrid, the prince was 
received by the Spanish governor, Fuentes, with every possible 
honour, lodged in the ducal palace, and a numerous household 
appointed to wait upon him. 

Henri IV. and his Ministers, finding persuasion of no avail 
with the Archdukes, had recourse to threats, and represented 
to them that, unless the fair Charlotte were surrendered, war 
would follow. "The repose of Europe rests in your master's 
hands," said the President Jeannin to Pecquius, the Ambassador 
of the Archdukes in Paris ; " peace and war depend on whether 
the princess is or is not given up." And the King himself 
reminded the Ambassador that Troy fell because Priam would 
not surrender Helen. 

The gravity of these speeches was enhanced by the warlike 
preparations which were in progress all over France for the 
execution of the " Great Enterprise " : the scheme of liberating 

1 Due d'Aumale, " Histoire des Princes de Conde." Cardinal Bentivoglio, 
" Relazioni." 


Europe from the domination of the House of Austria and giving 
France her rightful place in the world, which Henri IV. had 
cherished ever since his accession to the throne. It was, how- 
ever, believed by many that these formidable preparations had 
no other object than the forcible recovery of the Princesse de 
Conde, and Malherbe wrote 

" Deux beaux yeux sent 1'empire 
Pour qui je soupire." 

Such, undoubtedly, was the opinion of the Spanish Ambas- 
sador. " The King is so blinded and infatuated by his passion," 
he writes to Philip III., "that I know not what to say to your 
Majesty concerning it, and, if I find many reasons for holding 
peace to be secure, in regarding affairs from a political stand- 
point, I find many more for holding war to be certain on the 
ground of love." He goes on to say that he is informed that 
the King's infatuation has reached such a point that he is ready 
to sacrifice everything to it. His health is much affected by it ; 
he has lost his sleep, and some persons believe that he is losing 
his reason. And he adds that he is in daily expectation of 
seeing Henri IV. marching on Brussels at the head of a large 
force of cavalry. 

A fortnight later, the Ambassador writes again 

" Within the last three days, the King has endeavoured to 
persuade the Queen to request her Highness the Infanta to send 
the princess (de Conde) for her coronation. The Queen, through 
the King's confessor (Pere Cotton), has begged to be excused, 
observing that it did not seem to her to be becoming to appear 
as a third party and risk the indignity of a refusal from the 
Infanta. The King fell into a violent rage, and declared that 
the Queen should not be crowned, and that he would have 
nothing done to displease him. The Queen wept and was 
much distressed, both at this and at the ardour with which the 
King is pursuing one of her ladies." 

Henri himself pretended to be entirely engrossed by his 
passion. " I am so worn out by these pangs," he wrote to 
Preaulx, " that I am nothing but skin and bone. Everything 
disgusts me. I avoid company, and if, to observe the usages of 


society, I allow myself to be drawn into some assemblies, my 
wretchedness is completed." 

Fortunately for the fame of Henri IV., greatly as his mind 
was disturbed and his judgment distracted by this miserable 
infatuation, it is now generally admitted that the affair had 
little influence on the course of events. The war upon which 
he was about to enter was the outcome of twelve long years of 
persevering negotiations and carefully-prepared alliances, and 
if he had never set eyes upon the Princesse de Conde, the 
final .'result would have been the same. " The King and his 
Ministers," remarks Henri's latest English biographer, Mr. 
P. F. Willert, " used the large forces assembled for quite a 
different purpose as a bugbear to frighten the Archdukes. But, 
when they refused to purchase security by a compliance incon- 
sistent with their honour, it was not on Brussels that the French 
armies prepared to march. On the contrary, four days before 
his death (10 May, 1610), the King in the most friendly terms 
asked the Archduke Albert's permission to lead his army across 
his territory to the assistance of his German allies : a permission 
granted by the Archduke, notwithstanding the opposition of 
Spinola and of the Spanish party in his Council." * 

Nevertheless, almost up to the very 'last, there were many 
who still believed that, if the Princesse de Conde were given up, 
war might be averted. Among these was Henri IV.'s Jesuit 
confessor, Pere Cotton, who, in an interview with Pecquius, 
informed him that, at the previous Easter, " the King was so 
sincerely desirous of securing his salvation that he had readily 
forgotten his affection for the princess ; but that all his passion 
had been rekindled by the perusal of the letters which she 
addressed to him." a 

1 " Henry of Navarre and the Huguenots in France." 

2 Pecquius to the Archduke Albert, 28 April, 1610. It appears to have been on 
this occasion that Pere Cotton begged the Flemish Ambassador to intimate to the 
Archdukes that, though the solemn promise which they had given Conde might 
prevent them from surrendering his wife, they might, without any undue strain 
to their consciences, connive at her escape, since it was undoubtedly their duty 
to do everything in their power to avert so terrible a calamity as war. But this 
insidious suggestion their Highnesses very honourably declined to entertain. 


Although she was treated with extreme kindness by the 
Infanta, the young princess had grown heartily weary of the dull 
little Court of Brussels, and not only stimulated the passion of 
her royal adorer by the tenderness of her replies to his letters, 
but complained bitterly of the restraints to which she was 
subjected, and which, she declared, would have a most serious 
effect upon her health, unless his Majesty procured her speedy 

Meanwhile, Conde, at Milan, was becoming as bored with 
the imperturbable gravity and solemn pomp which surrounded 
him as was his young wife at Brussels, and, in order to find 
some distraction from the monotony of his existence, had been 
driven to the study of the antiquities of the neighbourhood and 
to beginning a translation of Tacitus, under the guidance of his 
learned secretary, Virey. Fearing that the prince might be 
persuaded to cast in his lot definitely with the Spaniards, the 
French Government despatched agents to represent to him that 
it would be more consonant with his dignity as a Prince of the 
Blood were he to remove to Rome and place himself under the 
protection of the common father of the faithful, rather than 
under that of the common enemy of his race and country. Condd 
seemed disposed to adopt this suggestion, but the arguments of 
Fuentes, and the news of the invasion of Lombardy by the Duke 
of Savoy and Lesdiguieres, caused him to abandon all idea of 
leaving Milan, and to place himself entirely under the guidance 
of Spain. 

Had Henri IV. lived, two things are tolerably certain to have 
happened : the first, that the Archdukes would sooner or later 
have been compelled to surrender the princess ; the second, that 
Conde would have been found in arms against his country. 
But, on 14 May, 1610, the knife of Ravaillac settled the question 
both of love and war, and Henri de Bourbon, with all his great- 
ness and his littleness, his splendid schemes and his shameful 
passions, was but lifeless clay. 

A letter from the governor of Alessandria informed Conde 
of the tragedy. He received the news with somewhat mixed 
feelings, in which, however, to his honour be it said, regret 


seems to have predominated. His position was a very em- 
barrassing one, as it was difficult for him to cast off the ties 
which bound him to Spain. Virey, in the account in Latin 
verse which he wrote of his master's adventures, part of which 
he subsequently translated into French, under the title of 
" 1'Enlevement innocent, ou la retraite clandestine de Mon- 
seigneur le Prince (de Conde) avec Madame la Princesse," 
affirms that Fuentes came to the prince to congratulate him as 
the " legal heir " of the murdered monarch ; and there can be no 
doubt that the Ministers of Philip III. approached the Pope, with 
the view of ascertaining whether he would be prepared to annul 
the marriage of Henry IV. and Marie de' Medici, in which event 
it was their intention to put Conde forward as a candidate for 
the throne. As they received no encouragement from Paul V., 
they were forced to abandon the idea, but they still cherished 
the hope that the prince would, on his return to France, dispute 
the Queen-Mother's title to the regency, and, consequently, no 
objection was raised to his departure from Milan. 

Conde left Milan on 9 June, and deeming it unsafe to cross 
France in the then unsettled state of the kingdom, and while 
still under the ban of high treason, proceeded to Brussels, where 
he arrived nine days later. In spite of the remonstrances of the 
Spanish members of the Archdukes' Council, he lost no time 
in despatching the faithful Virey to Paris, with letters for 
Louis XIII. and the Queen-Mother, wherein he protested his 
devotion to the new King. His overtures were very graciously 
received, and Virey returned to Brussels with an assurance that 
a cordial welcome awaited his master. The secretary brought 
also a letter from the Dowager-Princesse de Conde, in which she 
endeavoured to incite her son against his wife, informing him 
that up to the last moment she had continued to encourage the 
late King's passion, and begging him to refuse to see her and to 
leave her with the Archdukes. Conde" did not see his way to 
comply with the latter injunction, and accordingly consented to 
the Constable " sending for his daughter ; " but he firmly refused 
to meet her. "Monsieur le Prince has been some days in 
Brussels," writes Malherbe to his friend Peiresc, under date 


24 June, 1610. "The Infant (the Archduke) told him that he 
had a request to make to him. The latter, who did not doubt 
that it was that he should consent to see his wife, replied that 
he besought him very humbly not to lay any command upon 
him in which he should be reduced to the extremity of dis- 
obeying him. Thus matters remain in this affair. It is believed 
that he will take her back, but that he wishes to be requested to 
do so by the Constable and her relatives. All the letters which 
the King had exhibited, in which he was addressed (by the 
Princess) as ' man toitt ' and ' mon chevalier ' are disavowed." 

On 8 July, Cond6 set out for France, and on the afternoon of 
the 1 6th he entered Paris by the Porte Saint-Martin, escorted 
by the Grand Equerry (the Due de Bellegarde), the Dues 
d'6pernon and de Sully, and a number of the nobility, who, by 
their Majesties' orders, had met him at Bourget. As he rode 
through the streets to the Louvre, he was obviously preoccupied 
and ill at ease, " now playing with the collar of his shirt, now 
biting his gloves, anon fingering his beard and chin ; and one 
saw clearly that he heard little of what was said to him, and 
that his thoughts were elsewhere." 1 

The cordiality of his reception by the young King and the 
Regent somewhat reassured him, and it was with a more 
confident air that he left the palace and rode to the H6tel de 
Lyon, near the Porte de Bussy, where he was visited by the 
Comte de Soissons and other nobles. At nine o'clock that 
evening, he returned to the Louvre, and assisted at the coucJier of 
the King, " lequel il desguiletta, tira ses chausses, et ne par tit qtiil 
ne Peut mis au tit" thus demonstrating publicly that he 
repudiated the ambitious views which some attributed to him, 
and had no other desire than to be the first of his Majesty's 

For some little time, Cond persisted in his refusal to be 
reconciled to his wife. He was much incensed, not only against 
the lady herself, but also against her father, on account of the 
request he had addressed to the Archdukes, and the accusation 
of cruelty to the princess which he had not hesitated to bring 

1 "L'Estoile." 


against his son-in-law, though the Constable pleaded, in 
extenuation of his conduct, that he had acted under constraint, 
and that his letters to the Archdukes had been drafted by the 
President Jeannin, by order of the King. Urged on by the 
princess-dowager and his sister, the Princess of Orange, Conde 
actually appears to have contemplated taking steps towards 
getting his marriage annulled, in the hope that, if this could be 
effected, the Regent might offer him one of her daughters, or, 
failing a royal princess, he might espouse the wealthy widow of 
the Due de Montpensier. Finally, however, recognizing the 
difficulties of the undertaking and the danger of incurring the 
enmity of so numerous and powerful a family as the Mont- 
morencies, he yielded to the solicitations of the Constable and 
the Duchesse d'Angouleme, and, at the beginning of August 
1610, he and his wife were formally reconciled at Chantilly. 

We shall not attempt here more than a very brief account of 
the career of Cond6 during the troublous minority of Louis 
XIII. For a moment it seemed as though the prince were well 
disposed towards the new government, and Marie de' Medici 
certainly did everything in her power to confirm him in his 
pacific intentions. She purchased, for 400,000 ecus, the Hotel 
de Gondi, in the Faubourg Saint- Germain, the finest residence in 
Paris after the Louvre, and presented it to him ; she confirmed 
him in all his offices and appointments, increased his pension to 
200,000 cus, and gave him a large sum to pay his debts. But 
Conde was ambitious and meddlesome ; he could not forget that 
he had once been heir to the throne, and that ill-fortune had in 
all probability alone deprived him of the regency. l Scarcely 
had he returned, than he became the principal factor in 
fomenting opposition to the Government, with the design of 
diminishing the Queen-Mother's authority to the advantage of 
the great nobles of the realm, and for a time found the mttier 

1 The regency in France belonged, in theory, to the first Prince of the Blood. 
As, however, Catherine de' Medici had created a precedent in the Queen-Mother's 
favour, and, as Henri IV. had as good as named her Regent, Marie de' Medici had 
seized the office immediately on the late King's death. But for the circumstance that 
Conde was in exile at the time, it is open to question whether she would have been 
permitted to do this. 


of rebel a highly profitable one. At the peace of Sainte- 
Menehould (May, 1614), he received Amboise as a place of 
surety, and the sum of 450,000 livres in cash ; and at the Peace 
of Loudon (February, 1616), so enormously had the wages of 
rebellion risen in the interval, the government of Berry and 
1,500,000 livres were required to purchase his neutrality. But, 
at length, he went too far, and a rumour having spread that his 
principal adherents, the Dues de Bouillon, de Longueville, de 
Mayenne and de Vendome, were about to make an attempt 
to place him on the throne, on I September, 1616 which, by 
a singular coincidence, happened to be his birthday, the 
Regent, on the advice of Richelieu and Sully, caused him to 
be arrested at the Louvre, whither he had come to attend a 
meeting of the Council. 

For three weeks Conde" remained a close prisoner in an 
upper apartment of the palace, none of his Household being 
permitted to have access to him, with the exception of his 
apothecary, " whose attentions were necessary after two months 
of a somewhat dissolute life." But in the night of 24-25 
September, he was transferred to the Bastille, where he was 
treated as a State criminal, and subjected to a most rigorous 
confinement in a gloomy chamber, the windows of which were 
so closely grated that scarcely a ray of light was permitted to 

Ever since their formal reconciliation six years before, the 
relations between Conde" and his wife had been very cool ; 
indeed, it would appear that the tie which bound them had 
become merely a nominal one. Nevertheless, on learning of the 
arrest of her husband, the princess, who was at Valery, showed 
real magnanimity. Without a moment's delay, she set out for 
Paris, sent the prince messages assuring him of her sympathy 
and devotion, and begged the Regent to allow her to share his 
captivity. Her request, however, was refused, and she received 
orders to leave Paris at once and return to Valery. 

After the assassination of Concini and the departure of the 
Queen-Mother for Blois, Cond6's principal adherents were 
restored to favour, but he himself still remained in the Bastille. 


However, Louis XIII.'s favourite, the Due de Luynes, sent his 
uncle, the Comte de Modene, to visit the prince and report 
upon his state of health. Conde" begged him to convey to 
the King his hope that, if reasons of State required that he 
should remain a prisoner, his Majesty would at least consent to 
ameliorate his captivity, and, particularly, to permit his wife to 
join him. Madame la Princesse, it should be mentioned, had 
recently obtained permission to leave Valery, and had taken up 
her residence at Saint-Maur. 

The immediate result of this interview was to procure 
the captive a little more air and light ; but the unfortunate 
man's health had been so much affected by the rigour of his 
confinement that, when the windows of his room were opened 
he fainted away. Some days later, the favour which he had so 
earnestly requested, was also granted. We read in a journal of 
the time : 

"26 May, 1617. The Princesse de Conde" went to salute the 
King, and to entreat him to permit her to share her husband's 
captivity. The King accorded her permission, and to take with 
her one demoiselle. Upon which, her little dwarf, having 
begged him to consent to his not abandoning his mistress, his 
Majesty permitted him also to accompany her. The same 
afternoon, Madame la Princesse entered the Bastille, where she 
was received by Monsieur le Prince with every demonstration 
of affection, nor did he leave her in repose until she had said 
that she forgave him." * 

The prince and princess remained in the Bastille until 
15 September, when they were transferred to the Chateau of 
Vincennes. Here Conde" was allowed a good deal more liberty 
than had been permitted him in the Bastille, and took exercise 
daily " on the top of a thick wall, which was in the form of a 
gallery." In the last days of December, Madame la Princesse 
gave birth to a still-born son, " and was more than forty-eight 

1 "Journal historique et anecdote de la Cour et de Paris," MSS. of Conrart, cited 
by Victor Cousin, " la Jeunesse de Madame de Longueville." The chronicler speaks 
frequently of the prince's ill-treatment of his wife, for which he appears to think 
there was no justification. 


hours without movement or feeling. Never was a person in 
greater extremity without dying. The prince desired that the 
child should receive ecclesiastical burial ; but the Archbishop of 
Paris assembled the theologians, who decided that, since it had 
not received baptism, it had not entered the Church, and that 
no funeral ceremony was permissible." l 

Ill-fortune seemed to pursue both husband and wife. On 
5 September, 1618, the princess gave birth to twin sons, neither 
of whom survived, and, in the following March, Conde" fell 
dangerously ill, and for some days his life was despaired of. 
The physicians who attended him attributed his illness to the 
state of profound melancholy into which his captivity and the 
death of his children had thrown him, and, when this was known, 
the prince became the object of universal sympathy, and Louis 
XIII. was strongly urged to consent to his release. His 
Majesty promised to set the prisoner at liberty, " so soon as he 
had placed his (Conde's) affairs in order," but several months 
passed, and Cond still remained at Vincennes, though granted 
every indulgence consistent with a due regard to his security. 
However, at the end of August, another domestic event, which, 
happily, had a different termination from the others, came to 
relieve the monotony of his captivity, Madame la Princesse 
giving birth to a daughter, Anne Genevieve de Bourbon, the 
future Duchesse de Longueville, the heroine of the Fronde. 

The birth of this little girl was the turning-point of her 
parents' fortunes, for on 20 October Conde was at length set at 
liberty, and five weeks later the Parlement of Paris solemnly 
registered " the declaration of innocence of Monsieur le Prince? 
who was restored to all his honours and offices." 

His three years' captivity, which cannot be said to have 
been altogether undeserved, had worked a great change in the 

1 "Journal historique et anecdote de la Cour et de Paris." 

2 In the preamble of this document, Louis XIII. strove to throw the responsibility 
for his cousin's long detention upon Marie de' Medici and her adherents, although 
the real cause seems to have been the fears of Luynes lest Conde should attempt to 
dispute his ascendency over the young King. " Being informed," said his Majesty, 
" of the reasons by which his detention has been excused, I have found that there 
was no cause save the machinations and evil designs of his enemies." 



character of Conde. Like so many others, he had learned 
wisdom from adversity. Until then he had struggled against 
the royal authority with almost as much zeal as his father and 
grandfather, though, since the death of Henri IV., without their 
justification. But the lesson he had received had been a severe 
one, and henceforth the King had no more loyal servant, his 
Ministers no stauncher supporter, than the first Prince of the 
Blood. His enemies have accused him, and with only too 
much reason, of servility towards those in power and of an 
excessive regard for his own interests ; but, on the whole, the 
line of conduct he pursued seems to have been patriotic as well 
as prudent. 

Two years after Conde's release from Vincennes, on 8 Sep- 
tember, 1621, his wife bore him a son, Louis, Due d'Enghien, 
who was to confer so much lustre on the name of Conde ; and 
in 1629 a second son was born to them, Armand, Prince de 


Birth of Louis de Bourbon, Due d'Enghien (the Great Conde") His 
early years at the Chateau of Montrond His education His personal 
appearance and character Wealth of the Conde*s Life at Chantilly 
Isabelle de Boutteville and Marthe du Vigean Tender attachment of the 
Due d'Enghien and Mile, du Vigean Subserviency of the Prince de Conde" 
towards Richelieu He solicits for Enghien the hand of the Cardinal's niece, 
Claire-Cldmence de Maille'-Bre'ze' The young prince protests against the 
sacrifice demanded of him, but eventually consents He is presented to 
Mile, de Maille'-Bre'ze First campaign of the Great Cond He denies the 
rumour that he has "no taste for \i\sfiancte " FSte at the Palais- Cardinal : 
a ludicrous incident Marriage of the Due d'Enghien. 

VOLTAIRE has observed that the sole claim of the 
third Prince de Conde* to remembrance is that he 
begat one of France's most famous generals. To be 
just, he should have added that the claim is a twofold one, inas- 
much as not only was he the father of the Great Conde, but 
gave him one of the most thorough military educations that 
prince ever received, and but for which, though his fiery valour 
would doubtless have gained him some distinction in the field, 
it is scarcely probable that he would ever have earned the title 
of " le Grand? 

The birth of this shoot of the royal race was an event of 
importance, for, after five years, the union of Louis XIII. with 
Anne of Austria still remained without result, and the Due 
d'Orl^ans, the King's younger brother, did not seem inclined 
to take a wife ; but, at the moment when it occurred, the atten- 
tion of the Parisians was occupied by the arrival of a Carmelite 
monk, Pere Dominique de Jesus-Maria, to whom miraculous 
powers were ascribed, and it passed almost unnoticed. 

Conde was in his government of Berry when the news that 
he had a son reached him, and, as soon as she was able to travel, 



Madame la Princesse set out for Bourges, to take the boy to his 
father. The latter had already made up his mind as to the 
way in which his heir was to be brought up. As the little 
prince was fragile and sickly, and he dreaded for him the air 
of Paris, the cares of an over-indulgent mother, and the influ- 
ence of the fashionable ladies by whom the princess was always 
surrounded, he had decided to break with tradition and to 
establish him at the Chateau of Montrond, a fortified castle 
belonging to him, situated at the confluence of the Marmande 
and the Cher, overlooking the little town of Saint-Amand, 
where he would be placed under the care of some intelligent 
women of the middle class, who could be trusted to carry out 
his instructions with unquestioning obedience. 

Such an arrangement was naturally but little to the taste of 
Madame la Princesse, who was indignant at being thus separated 
from her son, but it was amply justified by the results. In the 
pure country air the boy's health steadily improved, while his 
intelligence was quickly perceived to be far in advance of his 
age. No sooner did he begin to speak than he displayed a 
remarkable strength of will, which resisted, as far as a child can 
resist, the orders of his nurses ; and they found it no easy task to 
persuade him to rise, take his meals, or go to bed at the hours 
which they considered good for him. He feared no one but his 
father, and, when the latter was not at hand to correct him, it 
was difficult to restrain him in anything. 

On 2 May, 1626, the little prince, who assumed from that 
day the title of Due d'Enghien, 1 was taken to Bourges to be 
baptized, the ceremony being performed, in solemn state, by 
the archbishop of the diocese, Roland Hubert. But, save on 
this occasion, he was never permitted to leave Montrond, where 
he led a healthy out-door life, the lessons he received being 
frequently imparted under the guise of games, so as to tax 'the 
mind as little as possible, while leaving the most pleasant 
impression. He made astonishing progress, particularly in 
Latin, and quickly began to evince the keenest interest in 

1 Enghien is the modern spelling; in the seventeenth century it was written 


military matters, the result of conversations with a distinguished 
engineer named Sarrasin, who was then engaged in repairing the 
defences of Montrond, and who superintended the boy's amuse- 
ments. " When, towards the end of the year 1629," writes the 
Due d'Aumale, " the Prince de Conde, returning from Langue- 
doc, stopped at his Berry fortress, his suite beheld with some 
surprise a young captain of seven, who ranged in order of battle, 
in the trenches of the chateau, the children of the neighbouring 
town of Saint-Amand, evoked the heroes of ancient Rome, and 
harangued them in Latin." 

At the close of the following year, Conde removed his son 
from Montrond to Bourges, to continue his studies at the Jesuit 
College of Sainte-Marie, one of the most celebrated of the 
schools which the Fathers had established in France. Wishing 
to avoid the complications which might arise from the presence 
near his son of a man of quality, he selected as his gouverneur^ 
a simple gentleman of Dauphine, La Buffetiere by name, " a 
good man, faithful, and well-intentioned, who knew how to 
follow to the letter Monsieur le Prince's instructions for the 
conduct of his son." l Associated with him, as tutor to the 
prince, was a learned Jesuit, Fere Pelletier; while a doctor 
named Montreuil watched over his health, which was still such 
as to occasion his father some anxiety. 

For six years the Due d'Enghien attended the Jesuit 
College at Bourges. The only distinction which was made 
between him and the other pupils was a little gilded balustrade 
which encircled his chair, and, by Monsieur le Prince's orders, 
his schoolfellows were strictly forbidden to give way to him, 
either in class or at play. Conde himself, who, as governor of 
Berry, resided part of each year at Bourges, watched over and 
directed the education of his son, examined his compositions 
and the notes which he took at lectures, and made him dance 
and play tennis before him. When absent at the Court or 
with the Army, he corresponded regularly with the boy, and, 
the better to judge of his progress, he directed him, after he was 
eight years old, always to write to him in Latin. Gouverneur, 

1 Lenet, M&noires. " 


tutor, and doctor were kept busy replying to the letters full of 
questions, instructions, and recommendations with which the 
anxious father bombarded them ; whilst the rector of the Jesuit 
College was perpetually being enjoined "to pay attention to 
the studies and conduct of my son." 

The pains bestowed upon the Due d'Enghien's education 
were well repaid ; his progress delighted his instructors, and 
must have satisfied even Monsieur le Prince. At twelve years 
of age, when he finished his course of rhetoric, such was his 
proficiency in Latin that he wrote and spoke it, we are told, as 
though it were his mother-tongue. The next two years were 
devoted to the study of philosophy and the sciences, which 
latter term included logic, ethics, mathematics, and physics, 
after which Conde, notwithstanding that his son had already 
received an education far in advance of that which was then 
considered sufficient for the son of a grand seigneur ; arranged 
that he should go through a course of law under the direction 
of Merille, Professor of Jurisprudence in the University of 

The vacations were passed at Montrond, to which the young 
prince was permitted to invite some of his schoolfellows. 
But his tutors and certain masters came also, and his studies 
were by no means suspended, though physical training lessons 
in dancing, fencing, and riding received the larger share of 

At the end of the year 1635, Conde judged that the time 
had come for his son to lay aside the scholar's gown, and 
accordingly the Due d'Enghien bade farewell to the Jesuits of 
Bourges and set out for Paris, where he was presented to 
Louis XIII. After a short visit to his mother at Saint-Maur, 
he set out for Dijon to join his father, who had lately added 
the government of Burgundy to that of Berry, and remained 
there until the beginning of the following year. He then 
returned to Paris and entered the famous "Academic royale 
pour la jeune noblesse," established some years previously by a 
retired officer of the army, named Benjamin, and recently 
transformed into a kind of military school under the protection 




of Louis XIII. and Richelieu. Here he was taught everything 
which concerned the profession of arms: geography, mathe- 
matics, fortification, drawing, fencing, horsemanship, being 
treated, by his father's wishes, in every respect as the other 
young noblemen, several of whom became his close friends, and 
in after years shared his labours and his fame. 

After twelve months of earnest work, varied by short visits 
to Saint-Maur, and a few appearances at the Court and in 
Society, the duke quitted Benjamin's academy, and in the 
spring of 1638, the Prince de Conde having been called to the 
command of the army in Guienne, Louis XIII. entrusted him 
with the government of Burgundy during his father's absence. 

It was a very striking-looking, as well as a very learned, 
young man who, one fine April morning, took his seat in the 
Parlement of Dijon, "with every honour and testimony of 
affection possible." " His eyes," writes a contemporary, " were 
blue and full of vivacity, his nose was aquiline, his mouth very 
disagreeable, from being very large, and his teeth too prominent. 
But in his countenance generally there was something great 
and haughty, somewhat resembling an eagle. He was not very 
tall, but his figure was admirably well-proportioned. He 
danced well, had a pleasant expression, a noble air, and a very 
fine head." l 

Unhappily for the Due d'Enghien and for France, his father 
and his teachers, while sparing no pains to develop his talents 
and to strengthen his body, had not succeeded in correcting 
certain grave defects of character, which, as he grew older, were 
to become more pronounced and to end by tarnishing his fame. 
The lad was fearlessly brave, open-handed, quick-witted, and 
full of energy and determination. But he was haughty and over- 
bearing, thoroughly selfish, and supremely indifferent to the 
sufferings or susceptibilities of others, when he had ends of his 
own to serve. 

When the Prince de Cond6 had married Charlotte de 
Montmorency, he was, for his rank, a poor man ; but during the 
last few years the family had become one of the wealthiest in 
1 Madame de Motteville, " Memoires*" 


France. The prince himself held the rich governments of 
Berry and Burgundy, and several other offices, and had received, 
at different times, immense sums from the Crown ; while, after 
the execution of the unfortunate Henri II., Due de Montmorency, 
for high treason, in 1632, the princess and her two elder 
sisters, the Duchesses d'Angouleme and de Ventadour, had 
divided between them the vast fortune of the Montmorencies. 1 
To Madame la Princesse fell the largest share of the landed 
property, including the estates of Ecouen, Mello, Chateauroux, 
Meru, and La Versine ; while, some time afterwards, Chantilly 
and Dammartin were also bestowed upon her, though she 
appears to have been granted merely the enjoyment of them 
for life ; and it was not until the autumn of 1643 that they 
became the absolute property of the Condes, in recognition of 
the military services of the Due d'Enghien. 

Although the Princesse de Conde paid occasional visits to 
her country seats of Mello, Meru, and La Versine, the greater 
part of the summer was always passed by her at Chantilly, 
whither she came with a little party composed of the most 
intimate friends of her children, and a sprinkling of wits and 
men of letters. Monsieur k Prince, who did not care for 
country pleasures, usually remained in Paris, and, in his absence, 
etiquette was laid aside, and the guests permitted to amuse 
themselves as they pleased. Lenet, in his "Memoires," has 
left us an interesting account of how the company at Chantilly 
passed their time : 

"The excursions were the most agreeable possible to 
imagine. The evenings were not less amusing. After the 

1 By a will made shortly before his death, the Due de Montmorency, who left no 
children, had designated as heir to the greater part of his immense estates the little 
Fra^ois de Montmorency-Boutteville, afterwards the celebrated Marechal de 
Luxembourg, the posthumous son of the Comte de Montmorency-Boutteville, 
executed for duelling in 1627. But the duke's condemnation rendered this document 
of no effect, and the whole of his property reverted to the Crown. Louis XIII., 
however, contented himself with retaining possession of Chantilly and Dammartin, 
for the sake of the hunting, without, however, uniting them to his demesne, and 
caused the rest of the property to be divided between the Princesse de Conde and 
her two sisters, Richelieu, we may presume, not being minded to set up another great 
feudal noble in the place of the deceased duke. 


usual prayers had been read in the chapel, which were 
attended by every one, all the ladies retired to the apart- 
ments of the princess, where they played at various games 
and sang. There were often fine voices and very agreeable 
conversations, stories of Court intrigue and gallantry, which 
made life pass as pleasantly as possible. . . . Rhymes and 
riddles were composed, which occupied the time in spare hours. 
Some were to be seen walking on the edge of the ponds, and 
some in the alleys of the park or gardens, on the terrace or on 
the lawn, alone or in parties, according to the state of mind in 
which they were ; while others sang airs, or recited verses, or 
read romances on a balcony, or as they walked or reposed on 
the grass. Never was there seen so beautiful a place in such a 
beautiful season." l 

Lenet wrote of the spring of 1650, when the Princes (Conde, 
Conti and Longueville) were in prison, and Madame de 
Longueville an exile, and when, as he admits, the amusements 
of the young people were often disturbed by bad news. But 
before the Fronde, which divided all French society, Chantilly 
was an even more delightful resort. The young Due d'Enghien 
came there, bringing with him many of the young nobles who 
had been his friends at Benjamin's Academy, and who were to 
fight by his side on many a fiercely-contested field ; the two 
sons of the Marechal Due de Chatillon, Maurice, Comte de 
Coligny, and Gaspard, Marquis d'Andelot ; Guy de Laval, son 
of the Marquis de Sable ; Leon d'Angennes, Marquis de Pisani ; 
Louis and Charles Amedee de Savoie, who successively bore 
the title of Due de Nemours; La Moussaye, the hero of the 
battle of La Marfee ; the two du Vigeans, Nangis, Tavannes, 
and others, amongst whom grew up a little humpbacked boy, 
who was one day to be known to fame as the Marechal de 

And there also was Enghien's lovely sister, Anne Genevieve 
de Bourbon, who, in 1642, was to marry the Due de Longueville, 
and with her a bevy of young beauties, light-hearted, laughter- 
loving damsels, bandying jests with the wits, rallying the more 

1 Lenet, "Memoires." 


serious, and exercising, under the indulgent eyes of Madame la 
Princesse, their precocious coquetry upon the Due d'Enghien 
and his comrades. Among them may be mentioned Marie 
Antoinette de Brienne, daughter of the Minister of that name, 
afterwards the Marquise de Gamaches ; the two sisters of the 
future Marechal de Luxembourg, Marie Louise and Isabelle 
de Boutteville ; the celebrated Julie d'Angennes, afterwards 
Duchesse de Montausier; and Anne and Marthe du Vigean, 
the former of whom married the Marquis de Pons, and 
en secondes noces the young Due de Richelieu, the Cardinal's 

Of these nymphs, two Isabelle de Boutteville and Marthe 
du Vigean were destined to figure very prominently in the life 
of the Great Conde. They presented a singular contrast. 
Isabelle de Boutteville, who, under the name of the Duchesse de 
Chatillon, was to achieve celebrity as the most finished coquette 
of her time, was an imperious young beauty, who already 
appreciated to the full the power of her own attractions. 
Insatiable for admiration, she disdained no conquests, en- 
couraging and rebuffing by turns the troop of adorers who 
gathered about her, and rehearsing thus early with the Due 
d'Enghien and the younger of the two boys who were to bear 
the title of Due de Nemours the part she was one day to play 
with them on another stage. None of the young beauties of 
Chantilly, with the exception of Mile, de Bourbon, inspired the 
poets who foregathered there to celebrate their charms and 
deplore their coldness more often than she. Among a multitude 
of verses of more or less merit, composed in her honour, may be 
mentioned those of the poet Charpy, wherein he draws an 
ingenious comparison between the destruction wrought by the 
sword of his father, the notorious duellist, and the havoc created 
by the beaux yeux of Isabelle : 

" Quand je vois de rapport de votre pere a vous, 

Divinite mortelle, adorable Sylvie ! 
II tenait dans ses mains et la mort et la vie : 
Vos yeux se sont acquis les memes sur nous." 

Marthe du Vigean was a very different kind of girl. Modest 


and gentle, she hardly seemed to be aware of the admiration 
which she aroused : 

" Sans savoir ce que c'est qu'amour 

Ses beaux yeux le mettent au jour, 
Et partout elle le fait naltre 
Sans le connoitre," 

wrote Voiture. Unfortunately, no portrait of her, either painted 
or engraved, has been preserved, nor have we any detailed 
description of her among the writings of her contemporaries 
which can supply its place. But her beauty would appear to 
have been of a peculiarly appealing type, the reflection of a 
character gentle, pure and unselfish. 

In love, it is said, people are most frequently attracted by 
those who least resemble them. However that may be, the 
haughty, vain, egotistical young Due d'Enghien, for a moment 
subjugated by the more dazzling charms of Isabelle de Boutte- 
ville, to whose yoke he will return in years to come, speedily 
transferred his affections to this gentle, retiring maiden, for whom 
he conceived the one great and pure passion of his stormy life. 
The girl reciprocated his affections, and loved him with an 
intensity of devotion which never wavered for a moment to her 
life's end. To her, this young prince, with his eagle glance and 
his fiery courage, was a veritable hero of romance, a seventeenth- 
century Bayard, " sans peur et sans reproclie" 

Although not in the first rank of the French nobility, the 
Du Vigeans were high in favour at Court, and Madame du 
Vigean was one of Madame la Princesses most intimate friends. 
She was very rich and gave magnificent fetes at her country- 
seat of La Barre, and Marthe was a considerable heiress. In 
ordinary circumstances, therefore, the Due d'Enghien might 
not have despaired of obtaining his father's and the King's 
that is to say, Richelieu's consent to the match, for the princes 
of the House of Bourbon, had often sought their wives among 
the daughters of noble and wealthy French families. But, 
unhappily for the lovers, Monsieur le Prince had other views for 
his son, and had long since selected a wife for him. 

Among the courtiers who so eagerly sought the favour of 


Richelieu no one was more obsequious than the Prince de 
Conde, who had not only willingly consented, contrary to all 
ancient usage, that the Princes of the Blood should yield 
precedence to cardinals, but had even, it is asserted, carried his 
servility to such a point as to raise the tapestry and hold it 
when the all-powerful Minister passed through a door. Omni- 
potent though Richelieu was, he could hardly have flattered 
himself with the hope of an alliance with the Princes of the 
Blood ; and it must therefore have been with feelings of astonish- 
ment and contempt mingling with gratification that " he beheld 
M. de Conde" ask of him almost on his knees the hand of his 
niece, and plead for this object as eagerly as though he had in 
view for his son the sovereignty of the world." l 

The niece in question was Claire-Clemence de Maille-Breze', 
daughter of the Marechal Due de Breze, who had married 
"solely for her beauty," as he was never tired of reminding 
the Cardinal, Richelieu's pretty but eccentric sister, Nicole du 
Plessis. Born on 28 February, 1628, Claire-Clemence's infancy 
was passed with her parents at the Chateau of Milly, in 
Anjou. But when the unfortunate Nicole's eccentricity turned 
to madness, 2 and the marshal began to console himself openly 
with the widow of one of his valets de chambre, the Cardinal 
decided that it was time to remove his niece ; and, in 1633, took 
advantage of an epidemic which was then ravaging Anjou to 
send her to the Chateau des Caves, near Nogent-sur-Seine, to 
the Bouthilliers, whose fortune he had made, and who were 
entirely devoted to him. 

It is probable that Richelieu would not have shown himself 
so solicitous for the welfare of the little girl had he not already 
foreseen that she would become an instrument of his policy. 
In point of fact, most flattering proposals for her hand had 
already been made him. The first was from the Due de la 
Tre"moille, on behalf of his eldest son, afterwards the Prince de 

1 Mile, de Montpensier, " Memoires." 

2 According to Tallemant des Reaux, at one time, the poor woman imagined that 
she was made of glass, and never sat down except with infinite precautions ; at 
another, she thought that her hands and feet had turned to ice, and was continually 
warming them, even in the hottest weather. 


Tarente ; and the Cardinal appears to have been on the point 
of returning a favourable answer, when the Prince de Conde* 
intervened and solicited the hand of this child of four for the 
Due d'Enghien, then twelve years of age. 

So anxious was Monsieur le Prince to be reconciled with 
the Minister whom he had failed to conquer, and to convert his 
former adversary into a complaisant ally or rather a beneficent 
patron, that he had already taken the precaution to assure 
himself of the consent of Louis XIII. The Cardinal, on his 
side, who saw in this union the most dazzling proof of his 
influence an d of the triumph of his policy, received his High- 
ness's overtures very graciously, and, early in 1633, gave him 
the promise he desired. 

The joy of Monsieur le Prince was such that Richelieu had 
all the difficulty in the world to prevent him from confirming 
the rumours of the Court and publicly announcing his good 
fortune ; but the Cardinal insisted that it should remain a secret 
between them until ithe bride-elect had reached a marriageable 
age, and, very reluctantly, the other consented. As for the 
Marechal de Br6ze, Richelieu did not even think it worth while 
to mention the arrangement to him, deeming that the right of 
disposing of his niece's hand belonged to himself alone. 

Thus matters remained until the end of the year 1640, when 
Conde, having gone through the form of obtaining the consent 
of the Marechal de Breze, acquainted his son with the honour in 
store for him. The Due d'Enghien, as might be supposed, pro- 
tested strongly against the sacrifice that was demanded of him, 
but Monsieur le Prince, always terribly in earnest when it was 
a question of pleasing those in power, was inexorable ; and 
eventually the duke gave a reluctant consent, somewhat con- 
soled by the reflection that, as the Cardinal's nephew by 
marriage, advancement in his profession must be both sure and 

Under date n February, 1640, we find Conde* writing to 
Richelieu from Dijon : 

" My son, who burns with the same desire as myself to be 
allied to you, will write to you on the instant, and will set out 


with me to-morrow for Paris, to offer his services to his mistress. 
I have spoken to him about it, and have received from him not 
only the proofs of the obedience that he owes me, but also 
those of very great joy on this subject." l 

The Duchesse d'Aiguillon, the Cardinal's beloved niece, 
conducted Mile, de Breze to Paris, where the Due d'Enghien 
and his father arrived shortly afterwards. The young duke 
was " presented to his mistress," as was said then, and autho- 
rized to visit and to write to her, while awaiting their marriage, 
which, much to the disappointment of Monsieur le Prince, 
Richelieu had decided to postpone until the following year, on 
account of the extreme youthfulness of the bride-elect. 

The Prince de Conde overwhelmed Claire- Clemence with 
attentions and declared that he was all impatience to call her 
his daughter-in-law. On presenting herfanc/to her, he assured 
her " it would never be possible for her to espouse a person 
who would show her more respect or more affection ; " and when 
Enghien was about to take the armchair that was offered him, 
he stopped him, saying sharply : " That is not the place for a 
serviteur ; go and sit down on a little placet with your mistress." 2 

Nothing less than the paternal exhortations were required 
to persuade the young duke to pay his court to his betrothed, 
and, in point of fact, he limited his visits to those which the 
exigencies of etiquette required. Claire-Cle'mence was "far 
from plain ; she had beautiful eyes, a fine complexion, and a 
pretty figure." 3 But she was barely twelve years old, and 
very small even for her years, and, besides, so childish in her 
ways that la Grande Mademoiselle declares that two years after 
her marriage she still amused herself with dolls. Very young 
men are more often attracted by ripe than by immature charms, 
and it was therefore scarcely to be expected that Enghien should 
have shown any inclination for the society of his betrothed 
even if his affections had not been already engaged elsewhere. 

1 Due d'Aumale, " Histoire des Princes de Conde." 

* Letter of Henri Arnauld to Barillon, April n, 1640, cited by Homberg and 
Jousselin, "la Femme du Grand Conde." 

s Mademoiselle de Montpensier, " Memoires." 


Little time, however, was given the young people for 
becoming better acquainted with one another, as other matters 
than courtship and marriage were demanding Enghien's atten- 
tion. Since 1635 war had been declared against Spain, and 
France had come openly into that field in which her secret 
influence had long been exercised. The clash of arms which 
resounded throughout Europe had strongly affected the young 
prince, and he had long sighed for an opportunity of displaying 
his courage. So early as 1636 he had written to his father : 
"I read with pleasure the heroic actions of our kings in 
history. ... I feel a holy ambition to imitate them and follow 
in their track, when my age and capabilities shall have made 
me what you wish." l Conde, however, thinking that his son's 
strength was not yet equal to the hardships of active service, 
had hitherto refused to gratify his ambition ; but, in the spring 
of 1640, he at length gave his consent, and, at the end of April, 
the lad set out for Picardy to make his first campaign with the 
army operating against the Spaniards on the North-Eastern 
frontier. He was greatly disappointed that he was not to 
receive his baptism of fire under the eyes of his father, who 
commanded the French forces in Roussillon. But Richelieu 
had chosen the Army of Picardy, because its commander, the 
Marechal de la Meilleraie, was the sworn enemy of Monsieur le 
Prince, and might, consequently, be trusted neither to allow the 
young soldier to shirk his duties nor to exaggerate his services 
To mitigate his disappointment, the Cardinal overwhelmed his 
future nephew with compliments, and presented him with two 
splendid chargers. 

This first campaign of the Great Cond6 was short and easy, 
terminating on 9 August with the taking of Arras. The young 
soldier earned golden opinions from all his superiors by the 
promptitude and intelligence with which he executed everything 
entrusted to him, and gave abundant proofs of the courage for 
which he was soon to become so celebrated in a cavalry skirmish 
before the beleaguered town. 

The campaign over, the duke, by his father's instructions, 
1 Earl Stanhope, " Life of Louis, Prince de Conde, surnamed the Great." 


returned to Dijon without passing through Paris, to the great 
chagrin of his sister and her friends, who were naturally anxious 
to celebrate his exploits. But Monsieur le Prince, like a prudent 
father, had decided that, until his son was safely married, it 
would be as well for him to shun the society of those danger- 
ously fascinating damsels, and of one of them in particular. The 
Cardinal, unaware that Enghien had been merely following the 
paternal orders, saw in this avoidance of Paris a confirmation of 
the persistent rumour that was going about the Court that the 
young prince " had no taste for his fiancte" In high indignation, 
he despatched Chavigny to Dijon, to invite him to explain his 
conduct and to say candidly whether or no he desired the 
alliance which his father had solicited for him. There can be 
very little doubt what answer Enghien would have returned had 
circumstances permitted him to express his real sentiments ; 
but, with the fear of both the Cardinal and Monsieur le 
Prince before his eyes, he indignantly denied the truth of 
the report that was in circulation, and begged Chavigny to 
assure his Eminence that his heart was entirely set upon the 

" I feel myself obliged to inform you," he writes to his 
father, " that M. de Chavigny came yesterday to see me and 
told me that he had something of importance to say to me. It is 
that a gentleman had told him that a rumour ran that I had no 
inclination for Mile, de Bre*ze" ; that I regarded this marriage 
with aversion, and that people remarked that my countenance 
was very melancholy, and, finally, that he begged me to be on 
my guard. I replied that the person who had told him this was 
a wicked man, as were those who circulated these false reports ; 
that I looked upon this marriage as a great honour and favour ; 
that it was the thing in the world that you and I desired the 
most, and that all those who spread these reports were his 
enemies and mine, and that, far from being melancholy, I had 
never been so gay." * 

Notwithstanding these indignant protestations, the Cardinal, 
who, while naturally very anxious for a marriage which would 

1 " Archives de Chantilly," cited by the Due d'Aumale. 


connect him with the Royal House itself and serve to consoli- 
date his power, was anxious also to assure the happiness of his 
niece, was still somewhat uneasy. In consequence, he showed 
himself a trifle cold when the marriage was mentioned, to the 
profound alarm of Monsieur le Prince, who redoubled his atten- 
tions both to his Eminence and his niece, and was as impatient 
for the conclusion of the affair "as if his son were about to 
espouse the queen of all the world." 

The marriage was finally fixed for n February, 1641. 
Early in January, the Due d'Enghien arrived in Paris with his 
father, who accompanied him everywhere he went, apparently 
from fear lest he should fail to manifest sufficient enthusiasm 
for the fate in store for him. Mile, de Braze* had already 
arrived and was lodged at the Hotel d'Aiguillon, in charge of 
Madame Bouthillier ; and, on 14 January, Richelieu gave a 
magnificent fete in honour of the young couple at the Palais- 
Cardinal. The principal attraction of this entertainment was 
the representation of "Mirame," a " tragi-comidie" which his 
Eminence had written in collaboration with Desmarets. 
Richelieu had spared no expense to give his work which was 
probably neither better nor worse than the mediocre pieces of 
the time a setting in every way worthy of it. The theatre, 
constructed expressly for it, had cost 200,000 e"cus ; the scenery 
had been brought from Italy, and the costumes had been 
designed by the Cardinal himself. All the effective passages in 
the play were rapturously applauded by the spectators, which 
is scarcely surprising, since the celebrated author, carried away 
by admiration for his own genius, invariably gave them the 
signal ; and if the fall of the curtain did not leave his Eminence 
under the pleasing illusion that he was not only a great states- 
man, but a great poet as well, it was certainly not the fault of his 

The play was followed by a grand ball, in which the little 
Mile, de Bre"z appeared in a marvellous toilette and decorated 
with a part of the Queen's jewels, which her Majesty had lent 
her for the occasion. Monsieur le Prince, who, with some of his 
intimates, watched the scene from the gallery, pretended to be in 


raptures of admiration, and every time that his future daughter- 
in-law danced, kept repeating : " Ah ! how pretty she is ! Ah ! 
how pretty she is ! " It is to be hoped that the report of these 
praises served to console their object for a trifling but ludicrous 
mishap of which she was the victim, and which must have 
occasioned her profound mortification. 

She had come to the fete furnished with a pair of enormously 
high-heeled shoes, which she had been made to don in order to 
increase her stature, which, as we have said, was very short, 
even for her years. It was only with the greatest difficulty that 
she was able to preserve her equilibrium, and, while dancing a 
courante, she slipped and fell sprawling on the floor. La Grande 
Mademoiselle, who recounts this misadventure, declares that 
" no considerations of respect could hinder all the company 
from giving vent to their merriment, not even excepting the 
Due d'Enghien." l 

On 7 February, the marriage-contract was signed in the 
King's cabinet at the Louvre, as was the custom when Princes 
of the Blood were wed. The Prince and Princesse de Conde 
promised the young couple settlements to the value of 80,000 
livres a year and an annual pension of 40,000 livres. His 
Eminence gave his niece the seigneuries of Ansac, Moy, Cam- 
bronne, and Plessis-Billebault, together with the sum of 300,000 
livres, but under the express condition that she should renounce 
all claim to the rest of his property in the event of his death. 

" It was impossible," observe Claire-Clmence's biographers, 
MM. Homberg and Jousselin, "to manifest more clearly, in the 
eyes of all, that the niece of Richelieu had been sought by the 
House of Conde*, less for wealth, which was by no means out of 
the ordinary, than for the advantages of a connexion with him 
whom the courtiers called " the All-powerful." a 

The stipulation regarding Richelieu's property greatly dis- 
gusted Monsieur le Prince^ who was as greedy as he was ambi- 
tious ; and, though he had not ventured to contest the matter 
with the Cardinal, he made, together with his son, a formal 

1 Mademoiselle de Montpensier, "Memoires." 
8 " La Femme du Grand Conde." 


protest, in the presence of a notary, against the renunciation 
exacted by his Eminence. 

After the signing of the contract, Richelieu gave a magni- 
ficent ballet at the Palais-Cardinal, entitled " La Prosperite des 
armes de France." This ballet, we are told, delighted every one 
save the King, who appeared to be displeased at the sight of 
the Due d'Enghien descending from heaven, surrounded by 
dazzling sunbeams, to make his entry. 

On 1 1 February, the marriage was celebrated in the chapel 
of Palais-Cardinal, by the Archbishop of Paris. After the cere- 
mony, the bridal pair and their relatives were entertained to a 
sumptuous banquet, and in the evening a play, followed by a 
supper, was given by Richelieu at the Palais- Cardinal. " Never 
had his Eminence been seen in a better temper," * writes a wit- 
ness of the marriage fetes, on which the Cardinal is said to have 
expended upwards of a million livres. Supper over, the com- 
pany adjourned to the Hdtel de Cond, to put the bridal pair to 
bed, according to custom. 

1 Letter of Henri Arnauld to the President Barillon, cited by MM. Homberg and 
Jousselin, ' ' la Femme du Grand Conde." 


Serious illness of the Due d'Enghien Tyranny exercised over him by 
Richelieu An amusing anecdote Death of the Cardinal His will Law- 
suit between the Prince de Cond^ and the Duchesse d'Aiguillon Enghien 
contemplates the dissolution of his marriage, neglects his wife, and devotes 
himself to Marthe du Vigean He receives the command of the Army of 
Flanders, gains the brilliant victory of Rocroi, and takes Thionville The 
Duchesse d'Enghien gives birth to a son Indifference of the duke He 
returns to Paris and endeavours to procure the dissolution of his marriage 
But this project is frustrated by the interference of the Prince de Condd 
Enghien is wounded at the battle of Nordlingen, and has a dangerous attack 
of fever To the astonishment of his friends, he suddenly breaks off his 
tender relations with Mile, du Vigean Despair of the lady, who, in spite of 
the opposition of her family, enters the Carmelites of the Faubourg Saint- 

A FEW days after his marriage, the Due d'Enghien 
fell dangerously ill, an event which was attributed by 
the Court to his despair at having been forced into 
an alliance so distasteful to him. Certainly, he behaved like a 
man who had little desire to live, and it was only with great 
difficulty that he could be persuaded to see the doctors whom 
Monsieur le Prince called in. At one time, his condition was so 
serious that hope was almost abandoned, but these appre- 
hensions were fortunately unfounded, and in six weeks he was 
convalescent. His spirits, however, did not return with his 
strength, and he remained for some time in a state of profound 
melancholy, refusing to go into Society, or to receive his friends, 
and spending " the entire day and a part of the night " reading 
romances. At length, he succeeded in shaking off his lethargy, 
and on 13 May celebrated his return to health by giving a grand 
fete at Charonne to his sister and her fair friends, including, 
needless to say, Mile, du Vigean. 



The Cardinal, already irritated by the coldness with which 
Enghien had from the first treated his child-wife, in spite of the 
affection which she lavished upon him, was much displeased on 
learning of this entertainment, for, in his opinion, no society 
was more calculated to wean his nephew from the domestic 
hearth than that of these charming young ladies. He had 
another, and more serious cause for resentment against the 
young prince, in the fate which had befallen one Maigrin, a 
creature of his own, whom Conde", at his suggestion, had 
appointed comptroller of his son's Household. Incensed by the 
surveillance which he suspected Maigrin of exercising over his 
actions, Enghien had inveighed against him in such violent 
terms before some of his confidential servants, that two of them, 
with the idea of pleasing their master, picked a quarrel with the 
unfortunate comptroller, and wounded him so severely that he 
died a few hours later. 

The Cardinal, furious at the death of his protegt, wrote a 
very angry letter to the Prince de Conde", complaining bitterly 
of "the disorders and the want of dignity in M. d'Enghien's 
Household," and demanding that " his conduct should be aided 
and guided by a single mind." The obsequious prince hastened 
to reply: " He is your creature: do with him what you will." 
And the luckless Enghien found that he had escaped from the 
paternal control only to fall under the tyranny of Richelieu, 
who reorganized his Household, which he filled with persons 
devoted to his own interests, fixed the number of days which he 
was to spend in any one place, and regulated everything which 
concerned him down to the smallest details. No wonder that 
the young duke was glad when the time arrived for him to 
rejoin the army of Picardy, with which he took part in the sieges 
of Aire, La Bassee, and Bapaume ! 

Although Enghien's manner towards his wife continued very 
cold, in other respects his conduct, during the remainder of the 
Cardinal's life, gave his Eminence little cause for complaint. 
On one occasion only does he appear to have offended the great 
man, when, thanks to the diplomacy of Monsieur le Prince, he 
was enabled to make atonement. This was in the autumn of 


1642, when, on his return from the campaign of Roussillon, he 
was so ill-advised as to pass by Lyons without visiting the 
Cardinal Alphonse de Richelieu, Archbishop of Lyons, and 
brother of the Minister. At the first interview which he had 
with the latter on his arrival in Paris, the Cardinal inquired 
after the health of his brother, and it became necessary to 
acknowledge that he had not been visited. The Cardinal made 
no remark, but, when the prince had departed, he gave full vent 
to his feelings, and vowed that he would make him regret the 
slight he had offered him. The Prince de Condi, informed of 
what had occurred, was terribly alarmed, and hastened to 
intercede for his son with the angry Minister, promising that he 
should make the fullest atonement ; and when Enghien joined 
him at Dijon, he ordered him to return immediately to Lyons, 
and repair his fault. And so the delinquent found himself 
obliged to make a long journey in very bad weather, not to 
Lyons, but to Orange, whither the Cardinal Alphonse had gone, 
on purpose, it was said, to give the prince the trouble of going 
further in search of him. 

A few weeks later (4 December, 1642), Richelieu succumbed 
to the one enemy whom he was unable to subjugate, in full 
possession of all the power and splendour for which he had 
laboured so unceasingly. Save to his family and his immediate 
followers, his death brought little regret, for all classes had felt 
his iron hand ; and Enghien, who, since his marriage, had been 
subjected to such galling restraints, must have felt very much 
like a boy emancipated from the control of some stern and 
unbending preceptor. Now, at last, he was free to order his life 
as he pleased, to follow his taste for pleasure, and to indulge his 
passion for Mile, du Vigean. 

When the will which the Cardinal had executed some 
months before at Narbonne was opened, it was found that the 
Duchesse d'Enghien's brother, Armand de Maille-Brze", had 
been left the duchies of Fronsac and Caumont, but that the 
duchess's hopes or rather the CondeV were extinguished by 
the following clause : 

" I make no mention in this will of my niece, the Duchesse 

Sc Tres puissante princess? CLAIRE 
d? AfaJUc return? dc \io7tfcjancur Louis tie 
toiiror/ / JPrtncf Jje Conde'&zJDanquien 

pjr ijii fy'i'f /luiilM' fsrnlt-flir Miiiftriift; 




d'Enghien, inasmuch as, by her marriage-contract, she has 
renounced her claim to my property, in consideration of the 
dowry I have bestowed upon her, and with which I desire her 
to be content." 

Great was the indignation of the haughty and greedy family 
into which poor little Claire-Clemence had entered on discover- 
ing that the Cardinal had strictly adhered to the conditions 
which he had imposed at the time of her marriage ; and the 
Prince de Conde lost no time in embarking on a lawsuit against 
the Duchesse d'Aiguillon, in whose presence the will had been 
drawn up, and who had benefited largely under it, while her 
nephew, Armand de Vignerot, was the principal legatee. He 
pretended that the will had been dictated by the duchess and 
executed by the Cardinal under the influence of an incestuous 
passion, and ought, therefore, to be declared void ; and counsel 
on both sides fairly surpassed themselves in the violence of 
their harangues. A first decision of the Court condemned the 
Duchesse d'Aiguillon to restore 400,000 livres ; but there were 
so many points to be debated, and the gentlemen of the long 
robe found the business so very profitable, that it was not until 
the case had dragged its weary length along for more than 
thirty years, and Monsieur le Prince had been more than a 
quarter of a century in his grave, that the parties, weary of the 
interminable litigation, arrived at a settlement (May, 1674). 

The Due d'Enghien, if he eventually showed himself willing 
enough to profit by it, did not at first take any part in this 
scandalous lawsuit, and it was his father who directed all the 
proceedings. His abstention was probably due to the fact that 
now that the " All-powerful " was no more, he was seriously 
contemplating an attempt to get his marriage dissolved, on the 
ground that his consent had been obtained by force while he 
was still only a boy, after which he intended to marry Marthe 
du Vigean, and, in view of this, he felt that it would be as well 
for him not to appear in the case. While awaiting a favourable 
opportunity for getting rid of the matrimonial fetters, he 
neglected his poor little wife entirely, notwithstanding that she 
was now enceinte, and paid such assiduous attentions to the 


lady of his heart that they were soon the talk of the Court. 
Learning that the Marshal de Guiche was about to demand 
Mile, du Vigean's hand for his son, the Marquis de Saint- 
Mesgrin, great-nephew of Henri III.'s mignon, he hastened to 
put a stop to this project, and showed himself so violently 
jealous of all the damsel's admirers that they scarcely dared to 
approach her. 

As for the duchess, she attempted no remonstrance, but went 
into retreat at the Carmelite convent in the Faubourg Saint- 
Jacques, where she remained until the departure of her husband 
for the wars. 

Enghien had just received the command of the Army of 
Flanders, which had been promised him by Richelieu, in 
recognition of his fidelity to the Cardinal during the conspiracy 
of Cinq-Mars and of the submission to which ambition had 
lately prompted him. The Spaniards were laying siege to 
Rocroi, a town at the head of the Forest of Ardennes, poorly 
fortified and garrisoned, and of considerable strategic import- 
ance, since its fall would leave France open to invasion. 
Contrary to the advice of the Marechal de 1'Hopital, who had 
been sent to restrain the fiery ardour of the youthful commander, 
and counselled him to be content with throwing reinforcements 
into the beleaguered town, he determined to give them battle 
without delay. The armies met in the plain before Rocroi in 
the early morning of 19 May, the same day and almost at the 
same hour as Louis XIII., who had died on the i6th, was laid to 
rest at Saint-Denis, and, mainly owing to a brilliant cavalry 
charge delivered by Enghien at a critical moment, the French 
gained a complete victory. The loss of the Spaniards was very 
great, while the whole of their baggage and artillery fell into 
the hands of the victors. 

The news of the victory of Rocroi was received with frantic 
delight in Paris. On all sides nothing was heard but praises 
of the Due d'Enghien : of his bravery, his military genius, his 
humanity towards the wounded, both victors and vanquished, 
and his magnanimity in demanding for his lieutenants all the 
rewards of victory, since he himself desired nothing but the 


glory. In a single day, he had become a popular hero. 
The enthusiasm abated only to burst forth again three months 
later, when intelligence arrived that Thionville had surrendered 
to the young general, and that the entrance to Germany, by 
way of the Moselle, lay open to the French. 

A few days before Thionville fell, on the evening of 30 July, 
the little Duchesse d'Enghien gave birth to a very fine boy. 
" The size of this child is a marvel, in view of the smallness of 
the mother," writes Perrault to Girard, secretary to the Due 
d'Enghien, " and the doctors who have assisted her wonder at 
it, and are not less astonished at the facility of the accouche- 
ment, which has been such that one would suppose that this 
little one has never done anything else." l 

Monsieur /<? Prince at once sent off one of his gentlemen, 
named La Roussiere, to announce the glad tidings to the duke ; 
but Enghien showed no eagerness to express his paternal joy, 
and, instead of sending the messenger back, kept him to assist 
at the reduction of Thionville. Nor was it until after the town 
had capitulated, and Conde had despatched another messenger, 
informing him that the boy " resembled him and was the most 
beautiful in the world," that he finally condescended to write a 
few lines to the young mother. 

About the middle of November, the duke returned to Paris 
to receive the felicitations of his family and friends, and to 
resume his " chaste amours " with Mile, du Vigean. His eulogistic 
historian Desormeaux declares that, on arriving at the Hotel de 
Conde and perceiving his son, "his tender and magnanimous 
soul enjoyed a pleasure more dear and more pure than that of 
victory " ; while the Gazette asserts that " to express the 
pleasure which his [Enghien's] presence had occasioned the 
Prince de Conde and all his family would be as difficult as to 
represent the joy which the duke experienced at the sight of 
the son born to him in the midst of so many laurels and 
popular acclamations." 

It is, however, unnecessary to see in such testimony any- 
thing except the blind respect of a prottgt of the Conds and 

1 Letter of 30 July, 1643, published by the Due d'Aumale. 


the optimism of the editor of an official publication. For the 
family correspondence proves that, at this time, Enghien 
certainly gave no indication of the intense affection which he 
was to bestow upon his son in ; later years, land he took advan- 
tage of the fact that the Court was still in mourning for the late 
king to have him baptized without the customary rejoicings. 
The child, to whom Mazarin and Madame la Princesse stood 
sponsors, received the name of Henri Jules and took the title of 
Due d'Albret. 

If the poor Duchesse d'Enghien had anticipated that the 
birth of her son would prove a link between herself and her 
husband, she was doomed to disappointment, for she found 
herself more neglected than ever. Soon after her confinement, 
she had fallen so seriously ill that the duke had been able for a 
moment to count upon her death and to look forward to a 
honeymoon with Mile, du Vigean ; and it is to be feared that 
he received the news of her convalescence with very mixed 
feelings. Disappointed in the hope of receiving any assistance 
from Nature, he appealed to his mother to use her influence 
with the Regent to obtain the dissolution of his marriage, and 
found in her a willing ally. 

Madame la Princesse, although she had never forgiven 
Richelieu the execution of her brother, Henri de Montmorency, 
whom all her prayers and tears had not sufficed to save, had 
raised no objection to her son's marriage with his niece, and had, 
so long as the Cardinal lived, shown the girl every considera- 
tion. But, since the death of Richelieu, she seemed to have 
transferred to her innocent daughter-in-law the hatred she had 
vowed against the Minister, and sought to atone for the 
hypocritical attitude she had been forced to assume by treating 
her with the coldest disdain. The prospect of humiliating the 
family of the man whom she had regarded as her brother's 
murderer naturally appealed to her, and she lost no time in 
approaching Anne of Austria on the subject. 

The prestige of Enghien was just then so great that it was 
difficult for the Regent and Mazarin to refuse him anything, 
and, though Anne expressed her disapproval of the project in 


unmistakable terms, and Mazarin was anxious to protect the 
niece of his benefactor, it is quite probable that they would 
eventually have yielded to pressure, and that the young duchess 
would have been repudiated by her unscrupulous husband, if 
the Prince de Conde had not intervened in her favour. 

To his honour, be it said, Monsietir le Prince had never 
wavered in his loyalty to the compact which he had made with 
Richelieu over the Cardinal's niece. If it were not in his 
nature to show the girl much affection, he understood, at least, 
how to constitute himself her protector, and had not ceased to 
employ every means to bring back his son to a wife who was 
so worthy of his affection. Informed by his daughter, the 
Duchesse de Longueville who, though she had hitherto been 
the sympathetic confidante of her brother and Mile, du Vigean, 
had declined to be a party to so discreditable an intrigue of 
the projects which were being discussed in his family, he showed 
the utmost indignation. Sending for Enghien and Mile, du 
Vigean, "he said a thousand cruel things to both lover and 
mistress," after which he advised the duke to return to his 
military duties as speedily as possible. The latter obeyed, and, 
shortly afterwards, bade a touching farewell to his lady-love 1 
and set out for the army. 

In August 1 544, Enghien added to the laurels he had gained 
at Rocroi in three days' sanguinary fighting before Freiburg, 
and a year later gained the victory of Nordlingen over the 
Imperialists. In the latter engagement he was wounded, and an 
attack of fever which supervened nearly cost him his life. In 
the autumn he returned to Paris, in a very weak state of health, 
when, as a general rule, man is particularly susceptible to 
feminine blandishments. The astonishment of his friends and 
the despair of poor Mile, du Vigean may, therefore, be imagined, 
when it was perceived that he seemed to regard the girl whom 
he had once so passionately loved with as much indifference 
" as if he had never heard her voice." 

To what are we to attribute so sudden a revulsion of feeling ? 

1 According to some chroniclers, such was his emotion at parting from his 
inamorata, that he fell down in a swoon at her feet. 


The ingenuous Ddsormeaux ascribes it to the fact that "his 
love had vanished with the prodigious quantity of blood that 
had been taken from him " ; others to the effect of the paternal 
remonstrances. But the most probable reason is that, with 
increasing years and experience of life, common-sense had at 
last asserted itself, and that, in despair either of obtaining the 
dissolution of his marriage or of overcoming the virtuous 
scruples of his inamorata, he had decided no longer to abandon 
himself to a passion which could have no other result than that 
of troubling his peace of mind. 

It is possible, however, that he may have been prompted by 
a more worthy motive. Finding that his equivocal attentions 
had somewhat compromised the lady, while, on the other hand, 
her devotion to himself had caused her to reject the honourable 
advances of more than one highly eligible suitor, he may at 
length have awakened to a sense of the selfishness of his conduct 
and have determined to yield his place to some one with a better 

If such were the reason of his withdrawal, the sacrifice was 
a vain one. Marthe du Vigean, though she permitted no com- 
plaint to escape her, remained inconsolable. She turned a deaf 
ear to Saint-Mesgrin and other suitors, who crowded round her 
as soon as the brusque retreat of Enghien was known, and 
resolved to become the bride of the Church. Lest, however, 
the resolution which she meditated should be deemed by the 
world the " outcome of grief or of mortification," she took no 
immediate steps to carry it out, and for some time continued 
to receive the visits of her friends, even of those who had been 
the witnesses of her passion. But, at length, in the summer of 
1 547, ignoring the counsels and entreaties of her relatives, she 
quitted her father's house and took refuge with the Carmelites 
of the Rue Saint-Jacques, whither the poor little Duchesse 
d'Enghien had been accustomed to repair, on account of her, to 
appease her jealousy and find resignation. Anne du Vigean, the 
future Duchesse de Richelieu, in a letter to her brother, the 
Marquis de Fors, gives an interesting picture of her sister's last 
days in the world : 


"... We went to Rueil, where we spoke every day of the 
affair [Marthe du Vigean's resolution to become a nun], and 
where many tears were shed ; and the conclusion arrived at was 
that, at any rate, nothing should be done for six months, my 
mother hoping, in asking this delay of her, that she might be 
able to induce her to alter her mind. Finally, we returned here, 
because I was very ill ; I had fever so badly that I did not move 
from my bed. One fine day, she said to me : ' Sister, I shall 
not give them all the time I promised, for I shall go before 
another week has passed ! ' I begged her to give me time to 
write to my mother, in order that she might come and speak to 
her, since I was not strong enough to retain or to counsel her. 
I wrote, accordingly, ill though I was. In the meanwhile, I 
had sent to the Hdtel de Longueville to learn your news [the 
news from the army], because I had been told that a courier 
had arrived, and Madame de Longueville wrote to me to send 
for it ; and at the end of her letter she asked my sister to go 
and see her. She went out, therefore, to go thither, and when 
she had gone half the distance, told her people that she must 
turn aside to the ' Grandes Carmditesj l but that she had only 
a word to say to them. She made them turn her carriage and 
went thither, where she is still and does not intend to come out. 
My mother arrived an hour later. . . . My father wished to kill 
every one, all the Missionaries and Carmelites in the world, but 
he is beginning to be somewhat appeased. I go to see her every 
day ; she is merry and resolute, and watches me weeping without 
shedding a tear." 2 

Marthe du Vigean seems to have been very happy in her 
new life, and declared that she would not change her condition 
to be empress of the whole world. 3 She made profession in 1649, 
and took the name of Sceur Marthe de Jesus. She held the 

1 There were two convents of Carmelite nuns in Paris at this period, one in the 
Faubourg Saint-Jacques, the other in the Rue Chapon. The first, which was the 
parent-house of the order in France, was known as the " Grandes Carmelites" 

2 Published by MM. Homberg et Jousselin, "la Femme du Grand Conde." 

* Letter of Mere Agnes de Je"sus, Prioress of the Carmelites of the Faubourg 
Saint-Jacques, to Mile. d'6pernon, cited by Victor Cousin, " la Jeunesse de Madame 
de Longueville." 


office of sub-prioress from 1659-1662, and died three years later, 
at the age of forty-four. 

The peace of the cloister had descended upon her, but the 
memory of her grace and beauty lingered long in the world she 
had quitted : 

" Lorsque Vigean quitta la Cour, 
Les Jeux, les Graces, les Amours 
Entrerent dans le monastere. 

Laire la laire, Ion lere 

Laire la laire, Ion la. 

Les Jeux pleurerent ce jour-la ; 
Ce jour-la la beaute se voila 
Et fit voeu d'etre solitaire 

The man whom she had loved with such devotion did not 
seek to see her again, but always preserved for her " a recollec- 
tion full of respect." a 

1 Voiture. * Lenet, " Memoires." 


Notwithstanding his rupture with Mile, du Vigean, the Due d'Enghien 
continues to treat his wife with coldness The heart of the prince is fiercely 
disputed by the ladies of the Court Dissipated life of Enghien : paternal 
remonstrances Liaison between the duke and Ninon de 1'Enclos Death of 
Henri 1 1. de Bourbon, Prince de Condd Failure of the new Prince de Cond 
before Lerida His brilliant victory at Lens Beginning of the Fronde 
Condd remains faithful to the Court, and takes command of the royal troops 
The Duchesse de Chatillon becomes his mistress Peace of Rueil The 
arrogance and ambition of Condd causes the Court and the Frondeurs to 
join forces against him The arrest of the Princes The Princesse de Conde" 
at Bordeaux Death of the dowager-princess Equivocal conduct of Madame 
de Chatillon Episode of an unaddressed letter Exile of Mazarin and 
release of the Princes Continued indifference of Condd towards his wife, 
notwithstanding her courageous efforts on his behalf Negotiations between 
him and the Regent His rupture with the Frondeurs, who draw towards the 
Court Condd retires to Saint-Maur Alliance between the Court and the 
Frondeurs Proceedings against Condd The prince retires to Montrond 
and " draws the sword." 

THE brusque and unexpected rupture of the Due 
d'Enghien with Marthe du Vigean for a moment 
encouraged the hope of a better understanding between 
the prince and the legitimate object of his affections. Although 
she could not, of course, compare in outward attractions with 
Mile, du Vigean, the little duchess, now in her eighteenth year, 
had improved greatly in appearance since her marriage, and, if 
not regularly pretty, she was, with her open countenance, her 
fine dark eyes, her beautiful complexion, and her trim figure, 
a decidedly pleasing personality. Moreover, she was highly 
intelligent, conversing well and agreeably on a number of 
subjects, and showing a good sense and a keenness of observation 
beyond her years, possessed a singularly sweet disposition, and 



was, notwithstanding the indifference with which her husband 
had treated her, sincerely attached to him. 

Unhappily, this hope proved illusive, for Enghien did not 
depart from that studiously courteous but cold and distant 
attitude which he had adopted towards his wife from the first 
day of his marriage. The poor little duchess was bitterly dis- 
appointed, but she had schooled herself to suffer in silence, and 
courageously refused to allow the world to perceive how keenly 
she felt her husband's neglect. Fresh trials, however, awaited 
her. Hitherto, she had, at least, had the consolation of believing 
that Enghien was still faithful to his marriage-vows, in deed, if 
not in thought, for the virtue of Mile, du Vigean had proved a 
more impregnable fortress than Thionville, and his passion for 
her seems to have preserved him from the wiles of more facile 
beauties. But now even this was to be denied her. The moment 
it became known that Enghien had broken definitely with Mile, 
du Vigean, the heart over which the latter had so long reigned 
supreme was fiercely disputed by the ladies of the Court, and 
the young hero became the object of the most singular advances. 
The majestic Duchesse de Montbazon, 1 the fire of whose splendid 
eyes "penetrated even the most insensible hearts," 2 charged 
their common friend, the Due de Rohan, to acquaint the prince 
with the sentiments which she entertained for him. Mile, de 
Neuillant, afterwards Duchesse de Navailles, one of the Queen- 
Mother's filles d'honneur, made similar overtures, with more 
diplomacy, but with equal ardour, and left no means untried 
to engage the affections of his Highness. But neither of these 
ladies appear to have made much impression upon their quarry, 
and it was a colleague of Mile, de Neuillant, the charming Louise 
de Prie, Mile, de Toussy, who came nearest to success. For some 
little time Enghien paid her the most assiduous attentions, and 
negotiations of a very equivocal nature were carried on between 
the prince and the damsel's relatives, through the medium of 
the Chevalier de la Riviere. But, either because Mile, de Toussy's 

1 Marie de Bretagne, daughter of the Comte de Vertus, and wife of Hercule de 
Rohan, Due de Montbazon. 

Madame de Motteville, "Memoires." 


family was inclined to be too exorbitant in its demands upon 
Enghien's generosity, or, more probably, because she herself 
was only willing to be a mistress in the poetic acceptation of 
the term, the ducal ardour soon cooled, and the young lady 
consoled herself for her admirer's defection by marrying the 
Due de la Mothe-Houdancourt. 

But, if no woman were permitted to succeed to the place 
which Marthe du Vigean had occupied in Enghien's affections, 
the ardent nature which he had inherited together with the 
courage of his ancestors soon found satisfaction in amours of a 
less sentimental character, and his life became so dissipated 
that, during the summer of 1646, the Prince de Conde felt 
obliged to remonstrate with him in the strongest terms. " My 
son," he writes, " God bless you. Cure yourself, or, it is better 
to poniard yourself than lead the life that you are doing. ... I 
pray God to console me. I write to you in despair, and am, 
Monsieur, your good father and friend. . . . " l 

The Due d'Enghien did not poniard himself, but neither did 
he amend his ways to any appreciable extent. His conquests in 
the pays de tendre far outnumbered those beyond the Rhine, but 
the very ease with which they were achieved deprived them of all 
value in his eyes and speedily quenched the flame of passion : 
indeed, the only woman to whose charms he seems to have been 
really sensible was the celebrated Ninon de 1'Enclos, to whom 
his attention seems first to have been drawn by the enthusiastic 
praises of their common friend Saint-fivremond. For a year or 
two the prince was a frequent visitor at Ninon's hotel in the 
Rue des Tournelles, and the lady, whose vanity was flattered by 
the admiration of the hero of the hour, was very kind to him 
indeed. But it was not in Ninon's nature to be faithful to any 
one for long " I shall love you for three months," she once 
wrote to a new admirer, " and three months is an eternity ! " 
and, besides, the victor of Rocroi made war a great deal better 
than he made love, and preferred to receive homage rather than 
to offer it. So gradually her affection cooled, and when the 

1 Letter of 18 August, 1646, Archives de Chantilly, cited by MM. Homberg and 
Jousselin, ' ' la Femme du Grand CondeV" 


prince, on his return from the campaign of 1648, reproached her 
for having encouraged the intrigue between his sister Madame 
Longueville and La Rochefoucauld, and for permitting the 
lovers to meet at her house, she dismissed him and consoled 
herself with the Marquis de Villarceaux, who had long sued for 
her favours. 

At the beginning of December, the Prince de Conde, who 
had been in failing health for the last eighteen months, was 
taken seriously ill, and at midnight on the 26th he died, in his 
fifty-seventh year. He made, we are assured, a very Christian 
end, in the presence of his wife and his two sons Madame de 
Longueville had followed her husband to the Congress of 
Munster and " parted from Madame la Princesse as though he 
had loved her all his life." J In his will, he left large sums to 
the poor, " deeming it incumbent upon him to restore the profits 
of the benefices that he had wrongly enjoyed," and even the 
humblest of his servants was not forgotten. His body was 
interred in the parish church of Valery ; his heart he bequeathed 
to the Jesuits of the Rue Saint-Antoine, an example which was 
followed by his descendants. 

Morose and bigoted, self-seeking and avaricious, the third 
Prince de Conde is far from an attractive personality. Never- 
theless, his death was a sensible loss both to his family and to 
France. Selfish and turbulent though his conduct had been 
during the regency of Marie de' Medici, when once he had 
decided that his own interests would be better served by loyalty 
than by opposition to the Crown, he certainly spared no effort 
to deserve the important offices and immense pensions which 
were the reward of his fidelity ; and the steady support he gave 
to Anne of Austria and Mazarin since ithe beginning of the 
new reign had been of the highest value to the Government. 
" As sparing of the King's money as his own," writes the Due 
d'Aumale, " his ideas on financial matters were sound ; he 
desired that the public debts should be regularly discharged, 
and opposed extravagance and the constant augmentation of 
expenses, as well as increased taxation. He inspired confidence 

1 Madame de Motteville, " Memoires." 




in serious men of affairs, who never wished to conclude a treaty 
when he did not assist at the Council. The quack financiers, 
the d'Emeris and the rest, feared him and rejoiced at his death. 
They played a fine game after he was gone." * 

His authority over his family was absolute. His children, if 
they did not love him, both feared and respected him, and to 
the last Enghien, so impatient of all control, showed towards 
his father the greatest deference. Had Henri de Bourbon lived 
a few years longer, his sound common-sense would certainly 
have saved them from the disasters they brought upon them- 
selves and France ; and the Fronde might have been, after all, 
merely " a blaze of straw." 

Charlotte de Montmorency had the enjoyment for her life of 
the whole of her deceased husband's property, subject only to 
an annual charge of 80,000 livres in favour of her elder son, 
and 10,000 in favour of the younger. This arrangement was no 
doubt a just one, seeing that the large fortune which his wife 
broHght him had been the basis of Henri de Bourbon's great 
wealth. But it, nevertheless, weighed very hardly on his suc- 
cessor, who had received comparatively little with Mile, de 
Brez6, and, being as liberal as his father was the reverse, soon 
found himself seriously! embarrassed to maintain his position 
as first Prince of the Blood, notwithstanding the revenues he 
derived from his offices and governments. 

In the spring of 1647, the new Prince de Conde was 
despatched to Catalonia to endeavour to retrieve the reverses 
sustained in that province, which had of late years earned an 
unenviable notoriety as the grave of French military reputations. 
He determined to lay siege to the fortress of Lerida, and, on 
1 8 May, the trenches were opened gaily to the sound of violins. 
It was a fashion of the time, which made of a war a fete ; but it 
was the hitherto invincible general who had, on this occasion, 
to pay the expenses of the music; for Lerida was resolutely 
defended, while the supplies and siege-artillery promised him 
by the Government did not arrive, and, after severe losses, he 

1 " Histoire des Princes de Conde." 


decided to raise the siege. Conde deserved credit for having 
placed the safety of his army before his pride ; but it was his 
first reverse, and, though he was aware that he had done every- 
thing possible to ensure success, his mortification was none the 
less keen. 

The memory of the Catalonian fiasco was brilliantly effaced 
in the following year, when, in command of the Army of 
Flanders, he gained, with comparatively trifling loss, the splendid 
victory of Lens, over an enemy much superior in numbers, 
whom, by a feigned retreat, he had succeeded in drawing from 
an almost unassailable position into a battle on level ground 
(20 August). This success hastened the conclusion of peace 
with the Emperor, and, on 24 October, 1648, the Treaty of 
Westphalia terminated thirty years of war and twelve years of 
negotiations, and extended the frontiers of France to the coveted 
line of the Rhine. 

Left with Spain alone to face, there seemed every reason to 
hope that a great future awaited France, and that, as the result 
of two or three successful campaigns, she would be enabled to 
secure the same advantages in the North-East and South- West 
as she had already secured in the East. That this hope was only 
very partially realized, and that not until after more than ten 
years of further warfare, was due to that miserable internecine 
strife which, under the name of the Fronde, checked the 
victorious career of Cond6 at the age of twenty-seven, plunged 
France into a welter of anarchy, and sapped the very vitals of 
the nation. 

This sanguinary and farcical struggle began with a contest 
between the Court and the Parlement of Paris, which, encouraged 
by the weakness of the Government and backed by popular 
feeling, was neglecting its judicial duties to encroach upon the 
political rights of the Crown and to claim an authority which 
even the States-General had never possessed. The " Importants " 
the aristocratic cabal, headed by the two great turbulent 
Houses of Vendome and Guise, which from the beginning of the 
regency had bitterly opposed the ascendency of Mazarin and a 
number of discontented and ambitious princes, prelates, nobles and 


great ladies : Paul de Gondi, afterwards the Cardinal de Retz, 
La Rochefoucauld, the Due and Duchesse de Longueville, the 
Prince de Conti, Turenne, and the Due and Duchesse de 
Bouillon, threw in their lot with the popular cause. 

Although Conde detested Mazarin and sympathized to a 
large extent with the opposition to the Minister, and though 
Madame de Longueville, who exercised great influence over both 
her brothers, made every effort to win him over to her cause, the 
sentiment of duty, which was not yet obscured, kept him faithful 
to the Court, and to the solicitations of the rebels he replied 
simply : " My name is Louis de Bourbon, and I do not wish to 
weaken the Crown." An admirable maxim, which, however, he 
was very soon to abandon. 

In the early morning of 6 January, the Court quitted Paris 
for Saint-Germain, a picturesque exodus of which the pen of la 
Grande Mademoiselle has traced an inimitable picture, and the 
rebellious capital was forthwith invested by the royal troops, 
under the command of Conde. The forces at the prince's dis- 
posal were, however, insufficient to invest the city completely, 
and, though some roads were effectually closed, others remained 
open. Occasional skirmishes took place, but the only serious 
fighting occurred at Charenton on 8 February. In this affair, 
the Due de Chitillon, husband of the beautiful Isabelle de Mont- 
morency-Boutteville, was mortally wounded and expired the fol- 
lowing day at Vincennes, whither he had been carried. With his 
death, the male line of the illustrious Admiral became extinct. 

The widowed duchess received the sad news with comparative 
indifference, but, according to Madame de Motteville, " counter- 
feited grief, after the manner of ladies who love themselves too 
well to care for any one else." She had not, indeed, waited for 
the death of her husband to establish tender relations with the 
fascinating Due de Nemours, and was already aspiring to resume 
over the heart of Conde the empire which she had for a brief 
while exercised in former years. l Hitherto, the prince would 

1 It must be admitted that she had some excuse for her conduct, as the deceased 
duke had been far from a faithful husband, and had gone into his last fight with a 
garter of his lady-love, Mile, de Guerchy, bound round his arm. 


appear to have given the lady but scant encouragement, for, 
though very far from indifferent to her charms, Chatillon was 
one of his closest friends, and the idea of engaging in a liaison 
with his wife was repugnant to his sense of honour. But, with 
the death of the duke, his scruples vanished, and not long 
afterwards Isabelle became his mistress, without, however, re- 
nouncing the Due de Nemours, her relations with whom 
she was, of course, very careful to conceal from her titular 

On 12 March, 1649, the Peace of Rueil put an end 
to the war, though it was not until 18 August that the 
Court returned to Paris, after an absence of seven and a half 

To the Parliamentary Fronde succeeded, at a short interval, 
the Fronde of the Princes, more difficult to characterize, since 
it was composed of little save disappointed ambitions and in- 
terested calculations, but also more difficult to conquer. The 
good understanding between Monsieur le Prince and Mazarin 
had been merely of a temporary nature, called into being by the 
danger to which the royal authority had found itself exposed, 
and it did not long survive the restoration of order. Condi's 
natural pride and arrogance had been enormously increased by 
the events of the last few months, and he believed his support 
absolutely indispensable to the Government. The Regent and 
her Minister were willing to go to great lengths to secure a 
continuance of it, but no ordinary concessions were, likely to 
satisfy a man who regarded himself as the saviour of the Crown, 
and believed that he held its fate in the hollow of his hand, and 
whose jealous and suspicious mind, skilfully played upon by his 
sister, seemed to see in every action of Mazarin a carefully calcu- 
lated move to strengthen the Cardinal's position or to diminish 
his own prestige. His increasing pretensions rendered him more 
of a rebel than the Frondeurs themselves ; his arrogance disgusted 
every one. He exacted from Mazarin a written agreement where- 
by he undertook not to make any appointment of importance in 
Church or State unless he had first been consulted, or to arrange 
any marriage for his nephews and nieces without his consent. 


" In his ordinary life he had such mocking airs that no one was 
able to endure him. However high their rank, people were 
obliged to wait an interminable time in Monsieur le Prince's 
ante-chamber. In the visits which were paid him he manifested 
so disdainful an ennui, that he showed plainly that they were 
wearying him." * Finally, having exasperated the Regent and 
Mazarin beyond endurance, while, at the same time, he had con- 
trived to alienate the Frondeurs, who had been eager for his 
alliance, the latter and the Court joined forces against him, and, 
on 1 8 January, 1650, he, with his brother, the Prince de Conti, 
and the Due de Longueville, were arrested at the Palais-Royal, 
whither they had come to attend a meeting of the Council, and 
conducted to the Chateau of Vincennes. Madame de Longue- 
ville, whose arrest had also been determined upon, succeeded in 
making her escape to her husband's government of Normandy. 

Anne of Austria and Mazarin appear to have been in some 
doubt whether to arrest the two Princesses de Conde, with the 
little Due d'Enghien, then between six and seven years old. 2 
" But considering," says Lenet, " that the dowager was a 
princess of a timid and indolent disposition, and that the young 
princess was without friends, without money, and without 
experience, and not very well satisfied with the conduct of the 
prince, her husband, they had decided merely to order them to 
retire to Chantilly." 

In sparing the young princess, they committed a grave 
error, for Claire-Clemence concealed beneath her gentle and 
retiring nature great courage and energy of character, which only 
awaited the occasion to manifest themselves. While all her 
entourage were bewailing the misfortune which had befallen 
them, she thought only of effecting her husband's liberation. 
The Due de la Rochefoucauld had formed a plan of resistance 
in the South, always ready to rise in insurrection on the 
smallest provocation, and had united his fortunes to those of his 
powerful neighbour, the Due de Bouillon. The two dukes 

1 Duchesse de Nemours, "Memoires." 

* On his father becoming Prince de Conde, the little Due d'Albret had assumed 
the title of Due d'Enghien. 


determined to link to the cause of the imprisoned princes that 
of the citizens of Bordeaux, who had been for months past in 
a state of semi-revolt against the tyranny of their detested 
governor, the Due d'fepernon ; and La Rochefoucauld despatched 
his confidant, Gourville, to Chantilly, to inform the Princesse de 
Cond of their intentions. The courageous princess at once 
determined to join them, and, with the aid of Lenet, on the 
night of 11-12 April, 1650, she and the little Due d'Enghien 
escaped from Chantilly and made their way to Montrond, 
and thence to Bouillon's chateau of Turenne, in the Limousin. 

The gentry of the South flocked to offer their services to the 
princess, who soon found herself at the head of a considerable 
force ; and at the end of May she appeared before Bordeaux. 
The Parlement and the municipal authorities hesitated to 
receive her, in the face of the formal prohibition of the King ; 
but the populace, incited by the agents of Bouillon and La 
Rochefoucauld, took the matter out of their hands, flung open 
the gates and welcomed her with frantic enthusiasm. The 
following day, leading her son by the hand, she presented 
herself at the Palais de Justice, to implore the protection of 
the Parlement. "Act as a father to me, Messieurs, since the 
Cardinal Mazarin has taken my own father from me," cried 
the little duke, falling upon his knees ; and the magistrates, 
partly out of compassion for this touching spectacle, and partly 
out of fear of the mob which was clamouring at the doors, voted 
that "the dame Princesse de Conde and the seigneur Due 
d'Enghien might reside in that town in safety under the 
protection of the laws." 

Next day, notwithstanding the protests of the Parlement, 
Bouillon and La Rochefoucauld entered the city, borne, so to 
speak, on the shoulders of the mob. Soon appeared a Spanish 
envoy, with promises of prompt and powerful assistance from 
Philip IV. ; and Bordeaux and the greater part of Guienne were 
in open rebellion. 

The revolt in Guienne quickly assumed such alarming 
proportions that Mazarin decided that the presence of the King 
and the Regent in that province was indispensable, and having 


left the Marechal du Plessis-Praslin to hold in check the 
insurrection in the North, on 4 July, the Court quitted Paris to 
join the royal army of the South, commanded by the Marechal 
de la Meilleraie. La Meilleraie soon succeeded in confining 
the revolt within the walls of Bordeaux, but all attempts to 
induce the city to open its gates proved unavailing, and on 
5 September the siege was begun. 

While the novelty of the affair lasted, the Bordelais 
displayed the most desperate resolution. Encouraged by the 
example of the Princesse de Condi, even the wives of the 
wealthiest citizens took part in the defence of the town, and 
carried baskets of earth decorated with bows of ribbon to the 
trenches. The little Due d'Enghien rode to the ramparts and 
cried to his attendants to give him a sword, " that he might go 
and kill Mazarin." Bouillon and La Rochefoucauld directed 
the defence-works, and, as if the siege had been a pleasure- 
party, " regaled the ladies with fruit and sweetmeats and the 
workmen with wine." Every evening there was dancing under 
the ramparts, and the Princesse de Conde held a court in a 
brilliantly-illuminated gallery. The festivities, indeed, were con- 
tinuous, notwithstanding that skirmishes, often very sanguinary, 
took place almost daily. 

However, the assistance promised by Spain did not arrive ; 
the better-class citizens soon grew tired of a struggle into 
which they had been forced against their better judgment ; 
while the bellicose ardour of the populace was cooled by the 
scarcity of provisions. Moreover, the season of the vintage 
was approaching, and to lose the chief crop of the year would 
be nothing short of disaster. Perceiving how matters were 
tending, the Princesse de Conde resolved to anticipate the 
surrender which she felt was imminent, and, on 1 1 September, 
proceeded to the Hotel de Ville, where the city fathers were 
assembled in conclave, land informed them that, " since she 
sought only their satisfaction and tranquillity, she would do 
nothing to hinder the peace which they might be able to 
conclude with the Cardinal." 

The authorities took her at her word ; and, on I October, 


articles of peace were signed between the Regent and the insur- 
gents, whereby a full and complete amnesty was granted the 
Bordelais, on condition that the King and his troops were 
admitted to the town ; while the Princesse de Conde", Bouillon, 
and La Rochefoucauld were permitted to retire to their estates 
in the full enjoyment of all their dignities, on the promise 
that they would lay down their arms and "continue hence- 
forth in fidelity and obedience/' It was also agreed that the 
Due d'Epernon should be temporarily suspended from his 
duties as governor of the province. The treaty contained no 
mention of the Princes, although the revolt had been made 
in their name and for their deliverance. 

On 3 October, the Princesse de Conde* and her son sailed 
from Bordeaux, "amid a rain of flowers," and proceeded to 
Bourg-sur-Mer, where the Court had taken up its residence. 
Claire-Clemence went to salute Anne of Austria, and, throwing 
herself at the Queen's feet, demanded pardon for her husband. 
Her Majesty received her very kindly and made her sit by 
her side, but her answer to the princess's petition was not 
very encouraging. " I am well pleased, my cousin," said she, 
" that you acknowledge your fault ; you have taken a bad 
way to obtain what you ask for ; now that you intend to take 
a different one, I will see when and how I can give you the 
satisfaction you desire." 

While Condi's neglected wife was promoting insurrections 
and confronting the perils and hardships of war in her 
husband's interests, his mistress was very differently employed. 
The Dowager-Princesse de Cond^, although she was still 
only in her fifty-fourth year and had hitherto enjoyed excellent 
health, had not been able to survive the misfortunes of her 
House. As sensible to the present disgrace of the children 
whom she so fondly loved as she had been to their former 
triumphs, she! had grieved over it to such a degree that she 
fell seriously ill, and died on 2 December, 1650, at Chatillon- 
sur-Loing, the residence of the Duchesse de Chatillon, to which 
she had obtained permission to retire. 

During her last days, the old princess had fallen very much 


under the influence of Madame de Chatillon, who, as avaricious 
as she was unprincipled, had determined to obtain a share of 
her property. In this she was but too successful. " The 
Duchesse de Chatillon, who was the most astute woman in 
the world," observes Lenet, "had so well understood how to 
employ her adroit and subtle mind and her agreeable and 
insinuating manners as to make herself so completely mistress 
of the princess-dowager, that she saw only with her eyes and 
spoke only with her mouth." 

It was with the idea of separating the old princess from all 
the friends and servants who might endeavour to frustrate her 
designs that the duchess had persuaded her to take up her 
residence at Chatillon-sur-Loing, where she was careful not to 
permit any one to approach her, except Madame de Bourgneuf, 
the gouvernante of Madame de Longueville's children, and 
Madame la Princesses confessor, a worldly and intriguing abbe 
named Cambriac, both of whom she had succeeded in gaining 
over to her cause. The outcome of these manoeuvres was that 
the dowager bequeathed to Madame de Chatillon nearly the 
whole of her jewellery in itself a respectable fortune and the 
revenues for life of several of her estates, including that of 
Merlou, near Pontoise. 

The young Princesse de Conde was at the Chateau of 
Montrond, whither she had proceeded on leaving Guienne, 
when she learned of the death of her mother-in-law. Well 
aware of the rapacity of the fair Isabelle, she at once despatched 
Lenet to Chatillon to watch over her husband's interests ; and 
this intervention obliged the impatient legatee to make a journey 
to Montrond to ask the princess's permission to take possession 
of the jewellery bequeathed to her. The interview between the 
two ladies was rendered the more piquant by an incident which 
afforded Claire-Clemence an opportunity for enjoying a malicious 
triumph over the too-coquettish mistress of her husband. 

Before the arrival of Madame de Chatillon at Montrond, a 
courier arrived from Paris, bearing a packet without any super- 
scription, which was brought to the Princesse de Conde and 
opened by her. It contained a tender letter for the duchess from 


her amant de c&ur, the Due de Nemours, in which he assured 
her that, since her departure from Paris, he was changed to the 
point of being no longer recognizable, and was gradually pining 
away. To these lamentations the lovelorn nobleman joined some 
very practical counsels, advising his inamorata to take possession 
of the estate of Merlou which, as we have mentioned, the late 
princess had left her for life before Conde was set at liberty. 
Claire-Clemence had the satisfaction of handing this missive to 
her rival, when the latter arrived at Montrond a day or two 
afterwards. But Madame de Chatillon, so far from exhibiting 
the confusion which she had anticipated, declared, with superb 
audacity, that the letter was a forgery, since M. de Nemours 
was nothing but a mere acquaintance. Notwithstanding these 
denials, the story of the letter had a great success, and 
circulated through all the ruelles, where Madame de Chatillon 
was unmercifully bantered about it. However, she could well 
afford to disregard these railleries, since Conde, too much 
enamoured not to forgive the equivocal part she had played 
towards the dowager-princess, showed no intention of disputing 
the will, and sent instructions to his wife to authorize her to 
take possession of Merlou. 

Notwithstanding the suppression of the revolt in Guienne 
and the crushing defeat inflicted on the rebels and Spaniards by 
Du Plessis-Praslin at Rethel (9 December, 1650), the party of 
the Princes gained adherents every day, while the unpopularity 
of Mazarin steadily increased. The Old Fronde, which he had 
alienated by his refusal to accede to their exhorbitant demands, 
made common cause with the friends of Conde*, and persuaded 
the fickle Gaston d'Orleans, the King's uncle, to side with them. 
Encouraged by them, the Parlement loudly demanded the 
liberation of the Princes and the dismissal of the Cardinal, and 
the Regent in vain endeavoured to defend her Minister. By 
the middle of February, 1 561, Mazarin was on his way into exile, 
and Conde was a free man once more. 

As soon as she was informed of the approaching liberation 
of her husband, the princess had made preparations to set out 
for Paris and bid him welcome at the Hdtel de Conde, but she 


was suddenly taken ill and obliged to remain at Montrond. 
Such, however, was her impatience to rejoin him that, while 
still barely convalescent, she insisted on starting on her journey, 
travelling the first part of the way in a litter. After having 
given her husband so many proofs of love and devotion, after 
having supported with so much courage so many trials and 
dangers for his sake, it was but natural that she should have 
expected some return on his part; and, for the moment, it 
indeed seemed as though Conde was by no means insensible 
to the noble conduct of the princess. He came to meet her 
as far as Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois, near Montchery, assured 
her that henceforth he should devote himself entirely to her, and 
desired that she should make a sort of triumphal entry into 
Paris in his own carriage, and sitting by his side. But, though 
he was probably sincere enough at the time, the supreme selfish- 
ness of his character rendered him incapable of any lasting 
gratitude, and very soon the astute Madame de Chatillon had 
resumed her former empire over him, and the poor princess 
found herself almost as neglected as ever. 

Unlike his father, Conde did not learn wisdom from 
adversity. The turbulence of the third Prince de Conde had, 
as we have seen, been effectually cooled by the three years' im- 
prisonment he had suffered in the early part of the previous 
reign ; but Louis de Bourbon was entirely destitute of the 
prudence which had tempered his father's greed and ambition. 
His year of confinement seemed only to have accentuated that 
impatience of all control, that haughtiness of manner, and that 
contemptuous disregard for the feelings and opinions of others 
which he had always shown. Restored to liberty, in circum- 
stances which seemed to promise him an almost undisputed 
ascendency, he returned to Paris more than ever determined to 
carry matters with a high hand. But, to exercise the power 
which he desired, the maintenance of the alliance between the 
Old Fronde and the party of the Princes, which had opened his 
prison doors and procured the exile of Mazarin, was essential, 
and Conde", though possessed of the highest military gifts, had 
none of the qualities necessary for successful political leadership. 


Anne of Austria, on the advice of her exiled Minister, with 
whom she was in constant communication, sought to break up 
the combination between the two Frondes by a rapprochement 
with Conde, and secret negotiations were accordingly opened 
with the prince. The latter, who cared nothing for his new 
allies, professed himself ready to give or rather to sell his 
support to the Court, and even to consent to the return of 
Mazarin ; but the price he demanded would have rendered him 
the virtual sovereign of the South of France. Acting always on 
Mazarin's instructions, Anne encouraged the belief that these 
preposterous terms would eventually be accorded, until Conde 
had completely alienated the Old Fronde, by breaking off the 
marriage arranged between his brother Conti and Mile, de 
Chevreuse, which had been one of the conditions of their 
alliance. The Old Fronde, indignant at the prince's bad faith, 
drew towards the Court, and, on the night of 5-6 July, 1651, 
Conde, in the belief that his liberty, if not his life, was 
threatened, fled to Saunt-Maur. Madame la Princesse and her 
son, Conti, Madame de Longueville, and a number of his 
partisans followed him, and he had soon "a Court which was 
not less imposing than that of the King." 

His more prudent supporters urged him to be reconciled to 
the Regent, who had sent to assure him that his retreat had been 
due to an entire misapprehension. But Madame de Longueville 
and others were in favour of an open rupture with the Court, 
and the prince's impetuosity of character and ambitious views 
inclined him to the same course. However, he was not yet 
prepared for an armed struggle against the royal authority, and, 
having despatched his wife and son and Madame de Longueville 
to Montrond, he returned to Paris and entered into negotiations 
with the Queen. But his demands were so outrageous and his 
conduct so insolent that the exasperated Queen decided to trans- 
form without delay the understanding which she had had for 
some weeks past with the Frondeurs into a definite alliance, and 
towards the middle of August articles of agreement between the 
two parties were drawn up and signed. 

Being now assured of the co-operation of the Frondeurs, 


Anne felt strong enough for an open struggle with Conde, and, 
having engaged Retz to maintain her cause in the Parlement, 
she, on 17 August, launched against the Prince a declaration, in 
which she charged him with ingratitude, contempt for the royal 
authority, criminal alliances with the enemies of the realm, and 
a desire to subvert the State. These charges led to violent 
scenes at the Palais de Justice, in one of which Retz narrowly 
escaped being assassinated by some of Conde's friends. They 
were not, however, pressed ; indeed, on 5 September, the 
Queen, on the mediation of Gaston d'Orleans, sent to the 
Parlement a letter formally exonerating the prince. But, under 
the pretext of giving more solemnity to the decree, she requested 
that it should not be promulgated until after the majority of 
Louis XIV., which he would attain on the following day, on 
completing his thirteenth year, the age fixed by the laws of 
France for the majority of her kings. 

Conde excused himself, by letter, from assisting at the 
proclamation of his Sovereign's majority, on the ground that 
his enemies had rendered him so odious in his Majesty's eyes 
that he could not be present without danger; and while the 
King, in the midst of a magnificent corttge, was wending his 
way through the cheering crowds to the Palais de Justice, the 
first Prince of the Blood, whose place should have been by his 
side, was hastening to his brother-in-law's chateau of Trie 
in Normandy, with the object of persuading the Due de 
Longueville to join him in resistance to the royal authority. 
He came, however, on a bootless errand, for Longueville, unlike 
his consort, had had enough of civil war, and declared that he 
was not in a position to render him any effective support. 

From Trie, Conde" proceeded to Chantilly, whence he sent 
an envoy to Louis XIV., offering to return to the capital, if the 
changes in the Ministry which he understood that it was his 
Majesty's intention to make were deferred for three days. But 
the young King haughtily refused even to consider this propo- 
sition. The prince thereupon summoned a meeting of his 
partisans at Chantilly ; but, now that he had actually come to the 
very verge of the abyss, he found many reasons to deter him 


from taking the final step : his reluctance to plunge his country 
into the miseries of another civil strife ; the many defections in 
his party, for to make war on the King of France was a very 
different matter from resisting the will of a Spanish regent and 
an Italian minister ; the danger of placing any reliance on the 
promises of help he had received from Spain ; and, finally, the 
knowledge that war would mean an indefinite separation from 
Madame de Chatillon, of whom he was more than ever 
enamoured, and who, having been gained by the Court, had 
been using all her influence to bring her lover to a more pacific 
frame of mind. 

At length, fearing that, if he remained longer at Chantilly, 
he might be arrested, he decided to withdraw to his government 
of Berry, and on 13 September arrived at Montrond. Here, 
two days later, a final conference was held, and the bellicose 
Madame de Longueville succeeded in triumphing over her 
brother's last scruples. It was then that Conde uttered the 
prediction so often quoted, and which was to prove so true : 
" You compel me to draw the sword. Well, let it be so. 
Remember that I shall be the last to replace it in its scabbard." 


Conde* proceeds to Bordeaux, where he is rejoined by his relatives He 
opens the campaign with success, but is soon obliged to remain on the 
defensive Return of Mazarin Conde on the Loire Battle of Bldneau He 
leaves his army and proceeds to Paris His futile negotiations Battle of 
the Faubourg Saint- Antoine Massacre of the Hotel de Ville The Fronde 
grows daily more discredited Cond quits Paris and joins the Spaniards 
on the Flemish frontier The Fronde at Bordeaux Sanguinary affrays 
between the Ormte and the Chapeau Rouge Courage and presence of mind 
displayed by the Princesse de Condd and Madame de Longueville in 
separating the combatants Surrender of Bordeaux The princess sails for 
Flanders to rejoin her husband Her reception at Valenciennes She is 
cruelly neglected by Conde She removes from Valenciennes to Malines 
Her miserable existence Conde* applies to the Spanish Court for financial 
assistance Brilliant military qualities displayed by him in the service of 
his country's enemies The princess gives birth to a daughter Peace of the 
Pyrenees Return of Conde" and his wife to France. 

THE fatal resolution once taken, Conde acted with 
his customary vigour and decision. He despatched 
Lenet to Madrid to conclude a treaty with Spain ; 
wrote to his staunch adherent, the Comte de Marsin, who 
commanded in Catalonia, begging him to join him in Guienne 
with all the troops he could induce to follow him, and directed 
his brother and sister and the Due de Nemours to proceed to 
Bourges and endeavour to incite that town and the whole of 
Berry to revolt. Then, accompanied by La Rochefoucauld, he 
set out for Bordeaux, which he had resolved to make his head- 

Conde was received at Bordeaux with transports of joy, and 
the town and the greater part of the province at once rose in 
revolt. But Madame de Longueville and Conti failed entirely 
in the task entrusted to them, and, on the approach of the royal 
army, were obliged to retire to Montrond, where Madame la 
Q 225 


Princesse and her son had remained, and subsequently to Bor- 
deaux. A much more severe blow to the prince's cause was the 
defection of Turenne, upon whose support he had confidently 
counted, but who, together with his brother, the Due de Bouillon, 
had decided to throw in his lot with the Court. Nevertheless, 
he resolved to take the offensive, and for a while carried all 
before him in the South-West. But his forces were much inferior 
in number to the Royalists, and by the end of the year he was 
obliged to fall back to the Garonne. 

The sudden reappearance of Mazarin upon the scene in the 
following January reanimated the hopes of the prince, and ap- 
peared to give new strength to his party. The Parlement, which, 
on 4 December, had issued a decree proclaiming Monsieur le 
Prince and his principal adherents " attainted and convicted of 
high treason and Ihe-mqjesti? now voted that this sentence should 
be suspended and renewed its old decrees against the Cardinal. 
Gaston d'Orleans, with whom the prince had been for some time 
past negotiating, believing that he had been the dupe of the 
Queen, concluded an alliance with him, and, shortly afterwards, 
most of the Frondeurs also declared for Conde. 

Towards the end of March, Conde, having entrusted the 
government of Guienne to his brother, Conti, assisted by a 
council composed of Madame la Princesse, Madame de Longue- 
ville, Lenet, Marsin, and the President Viole, set out to take 
command of the Frondeurs on the Loire. After an adventurous 
journey, in which he only escaped capture by a miracle, he 
reached the army in safety, and falling upon the division of the 
royal forces commanded by Hocquincourt, completely routed it. 
But his attack on Turenne's position failed, and, shortly after- 
wards, he quitted his army and set out for Paris, with the object 
of inducing the capital to espouse his cause. Here, he found his 
beloved Madame de Chatillon, and, largely through her influence, 
" allowed himself to be drawn into an abyss of negotiations of 
which one never saw the bottom." 1 These negotiations led to 
no result, and, in the absence of their chief, the Frondeur army 
suffered a severe reverse at Etampes, where it was suddenly 

1 La Rochefoucauld, " Memoires." 


attacked by Turenne. Nor did he secure the adhesion of the 
capital, for, though the populace espoused his cause, the better- 
class citizens stood aloof. 

At length, at the end of June, Conde, comprehending the 
fatal error he had committed in leaving the field to engage in 
futile intrigues, and of having preferred the counsels of an 
avaricious mistress 1 to those of his best friends, left Paris to 
resume the command of his weakened and disheartened forces. 
It was too late. Forced back upon Paris by superior numbers, 
he was obliged to fight the bloody combat of the Faubourg Saint- 
Antoine, which would probably have ended in the total destruc- 
tion of the rebel army, had not la Grande Mademoiselle, by dint 
of tears and supplications, wrested an order from her irresolute 
father to open the gates to the hard-pressed Frondeurs and for 
the cannon of the Bastille to cover their retreat (2 July). 

Two days later, a ferocious mob, among which are said to 
have been many of Conde's soldiers, disguised as artisans, 
attacked the Hotel de Ville, where some three hundred delegates 
from the clergy, magistracy, and the various parishes were 
assembled in conclave, murdered several of them, and set the 
building on fire. This atrocious act, worthy of the worst days 
of the League, had the effect of terrifying the city into sub- 
mission to Conde, but, at the same time, proved the death-blow 
of the Fronde, since all save the refuse of the people were filled 
with horror and loathing for a party which sought to compass 
its ends by such means. Every day saw the prince's followers 
falling away from him and the desire for peace growing 
stronger ; and the skilful effacement of Mazarin, who, on 
19 August, left Pontoise and retired into a second and 
voluntary exile at Bouillon, and afterwards at Sedan, removed 
the only pretext for continuing the war. Conde attempted to 
negotiate, but was informed that no proposal from him would 
be considered until he had laid down his arms, disbanded his 
troops, and renounced his alliance with Spain ; and, at length, 

1 In his negotiations with the Court, Madame de Chitillon had persuaded Conde to 
stipulate that her services in the cause of peace and concord should be recognized by 
a gratification of 100,000 ecus. 


on 13 October, disdaining to accept the general amnesty which 
had been proclaimed, but finding his position in the capital no 
longer tenable, he left Paris with the few troops which still 
remained faithful to him and joined the Spaniards on the 
Flemish frontier. A week later, Louis XIV. and Anne of 
Austria made their entry into the city amid general rejoicings, 
and in the following February Mazarin returned in triumph, to 
remain until the hour of his death the absolute ruler of France. 
The Fronde of Bordeaux survived the Fronde in Paris by 
nearly ten months. Its chief feature was the bitter struggle 
between the advanced and moderate parties among the citizens. 
The former, recruited from the lower middle-class and the 
populace, desired to carry on the war a otitrance, and was quite 
ready for an alliance with Spain, England, or half Europe for 
that matter. Its most violent spirits held republican views, 
which had been fostered by recent events in England, and, 
imitating the League or anticipating the Jacobins, formed 
themselves into a regular society, called, from its favourite 
place of assembly a little terrace bordered by elms in the 
environs of the town the Ormte, and persecuted with the 
utmost virulence all whom they suspected of hostility to 
the popular cause. The latter, which comprised the great 
majority of the better-class citizens, though hostile in general to 
the Court and Mazarin, were desirous of keeping the insur- 
rectionary movement within bounds, and looked with marked 
disapproval on Condi's negotiations with Spain. To resist the 
tyranny of the Ormte, they organized themselves into a kind of 
aristocratic league, which was called, from the fashionable 
quarter of the town, the Chapeau Rouge. Sanguinary encounters 
between the two factions were of frequent occurrence, and, but 
for the courage and presence of mind of the Princesse de Conde" 
and Madame de Longueville, who, at great personal risk, 
repeatedly intervened to separate the infuriated combatants, 
Bordeaux would have become a shambles. 

On one occasion, we read that Madame la Princesse, "fort 
allum/e de colhe? vowed that the next time there was a breach 
of the peace, she would, notwithstanding that she was with 


child, 1 place herself at the head of those who obeyed her, and 
cause the offenders to be cut to pieces. 2 Scarcely, however, had 
she and Madame de Longueville withdrawn, than the Ormistes, 
undismayed by this terrible threat, stormed the Hdtel de Ville 
and held it throughout the night. In the morning, flushed with 
success, they marched in great force upon the Quartier du 
Chapeau Rouge, and attacked the house of a certain M. Pichon, 
a president of the Parlement, who appears to have been the 
object of their peculiar animosity. Unhappily for them, M. 
Pichon had received warning of their intentions, and had taken 
the precaution to convert his residence into a kind of fortress, 
from which a withering fire of musketry was opened on the 
besiegers. Exasperated by their losses, the Ormistes proceeded 
to storm and set fire to the neighbouring houses ; reinforce- 
ments came up rapidly on both sides, and it seemed as though 
the whole town would be delivered up to fire and blood. 
So fierce was the fighting that it appeared hopeless for the 
princesses to intervene ; but, at length, they bethought themselves 
of a happy expedient. Hastening to the cur of the Church of 
Saint-Messan, they ordered him to accompany them to the 
scene of the fray, bearing the Holy Sacrament, preceded by the 
cross and candles. The cortege advanced into the very midst of 
the combatants, who desisted, vanquished by the courage and 
presence of mind of these young women. 

On 23 July, 1653, Bordeaux surrendered on honourable 
terms, the troops which Marsin had brought from Catalonia 
being permitted to join Conde*, and a full pardon being granted 
to the inhabitants, with the exception of the leaders of the 
Ormte, one of whom was executed. 

The most generous offers were made by Mazarin to Madame 
la Pnncesse, on condition that she should remain: in France 
and separate her interests from those of her husband. But, 
ever constant to her duty, Claire-Cle"mence declined them, and 

1 In the night of 19-20 September, 1652, the Princesse de Conde gave birth to a 
son. The little prince, who was baptized Louis de Bordeaux and received the title 
of Due de Bourbon, only lived a few weeks. 

2 Lenet, " Memoires." 


announced her intention of rejoining Conde\ On 3 August, 
accompanied by the Due d'Enghien and the faithful Lenet, she 
sailed for Flanders on board a Spanish ship-of-war. Her 
health had been so much affected by the trials and anxieties of 
the last few months that her physicians assured her that she 
would not survive the voyage ; but, happily, these gloomy 
prognostications were not realized, and on 26 August she landed 
safely at Dunkerque. Thence she journeyed slowly, by way of 
Nieuport, Bruges, Ghent, and Oudenarde, to Valenciennes, 
where, by her husband's orders, she took up her residence. 

By order of the Viceroy of the Netherlands, she was 
received everywhere with royal honours and the most splendid 
hospitality. At Valenciennes, the governor, the municipal 
authorities, and all the nobility of the surrounding country, 
came to pay her homage, and to compliment her on her heroic 
Odyssey from Bordeaux. The Viceroy did everything in his 
power to amuse her, and sent from Brussels a company of 
actors, who gave before the illustrious exile a series of per- 
formances, in a theatre constructed specially for the occasion. 

The consideration and sympathy with which strangers were 
so eager to surround the princess presented a striking contrast 
to the coldness and indifference of her husband. After all that 
she had done and suffered for his sake, she might well have 
expected to receive from him some proof of affection, or at 
least, of respect. But for eight months after her arrival he 
never once condescended to visit her, and, to add to the morti- 
fication which she must have felt, he deprived her of her son, 
who had never yet left her, whom he sent to the Jesuit College 
at Namur. At last, at the end of June, 1654, he sent orders to 
her to meet him at Mons. They passed one night together at 
an inn in the town, and on the morrow separated again, the 
husband proceeding to Brussels and the army, the wife returning 
to Valenciennes. 

At the beginning of September, the approach of the French 
obliged Madame la Princesse to quit Valenciennes and seek 
another asylum. She chose Malines, where she installed herself 
at the Hotel Hoogstratin. In spite of the fine promises which 


had been made by the Viceroy, she did not receive any assist- 
ance from the Government and soon found herself in terrible 
straits. The meagre sums sent her at rare intervals by Conde*, 
who was himself in scarcely better case, were quite insufficient 
to defray the expenses of her Household, and she was obliged 
to dismiss the greater number of her attendants and to dispose 
successively of the few jewels she had kept, less for their value 
than for the associations connected with them, of her horses 
and carriages, and, finally, of part of her wardrobe. Sometimes 
she and her servants were even in need of food, for her maitre 
d* hotel had the greatest difficulty in obtaining credit from the 
humble tradesmen of the town. 

The princess continued this wretched existence for several 
years. She rarely saw her son, but received occasional visits 
from her husband, an honour for which she seems to have been 
indebted to the fact that Conde was no longer able to spend 
his leisure at Brussels, where he was in debt to every one. 
" I am in such disrepute with the tradesmen," he writes, under 
date 28 October, 1655, to the Comte de Fiesque, his envoy at 
Madrid, " that they look upon me as a bankrupt I borrow in 
every direction, and I pay no one back." And, a month later : 
" I doubt if I shall dare to return to Brussels, on account of 
the multitude of creditors of all kinds whom I have there. . . . 
My wife and my son are accustoming themselves to live on air." 

When, on 2 January, 1656, Conde* arrived at Malines, he 
found his unfortunate wife without a fire in her room, and 
learned that the exasperated landlady of the inn had just 
caused the princess's maitre d'hotel to be thrown into prison. 
Moved with pity, despite his egoism, by the wretched condition 
to which his conduct had reduced this courageous and devoted 
woman, he humbled his pride sufficiently to write to Don 
Luis de Haro, Prime Minister of Spain, to demand assistance. 
" Finally, Monsieur," he writes, " I beg your Excellency to 
consider that without prompt pecuniary assistance it will be 
impossible for me to continue my services to the King with 
honour and usefulness. ... I beg you to inform me what his 
Catholic Majesty wishes me to become ; for, so long as I have 


no money, as my troops are without recruits and without 
remounts, as my general-officers are without a sol, as my for- 
tresses are dismantled, as all my friends are in poverty, as I 
myself, my wife, and my son are in a continual beggary, I 
cannot be capable of rendering service to his Majesty in such a 
condition." 1 

Conde certainly had every claim upon the gratitude of the 
Spanish Court, for in the service of the enemies of his country 
he displayed the most rare qualities. As a general, he com- 
pelled the admiration of all by his courage, energy, and fore- 
sight. His masterly retreat on Mons, after the raising of the 
siege of Arras, whereby he saved the routed Spaniards from 
complete destruction, must rank as one of his finest feats of 
arms, and scarcely less brilliant were his relief of Cambrai and 
the manner in which he forced Turenne's lines before Valen- 
ciennes. Badly seconded by the Spanish Government, who 
furnished him neither with subsidies nor capable generals, he 
was obliged to give his personal attention to everything. He 
superintended the recruiting of his armies, their provisioning, 
their encampments, descended even to the most trifling details, 
and led the life of the soldier, sharing his privations that he 
might communicate to him his energy. 

As the result of the visit paid by Conde to Malines at the 
beginning of 1656, in the following spring Madame la Princesse 
found herself again in an interesting condition. The approach 
of this event added to the poor woman's anxieties, for she 
could not but feel many misgivings as to the fate reserved for a 
child to be born in exile, the offspring of a rebel prince, who had 
been deprived, by a decree of the Parlement, even of the name 
of Bourbon. She was, besides, much disquieted by the prospect 
of the privations which it might be required to face at Malines, 
in that inn where she was reduced to live so miserably. She 
accordingly took counsel with the faithful Lenet, and, on his 
advice, decided to petition Louis XIV. and Mazarin for per- 
mission to return to France, and, at the same time, to appeal to 
the Parlement of Paris and her relatives to make intercession 

1 Archives de Chantilly, cited by the Due d'Aumale. 


on her behalf. But the touching letters which she addressed to 
the King and the Minister were without result ; she was merely 
informed that circumstances did not lend themselves to her 
return to France, and her only resource was to have a protest 
drawn up by Flemish lawyers, " in order that her accouchement 
out of France might not be laid to her charge, nor prejudice 
the child which would be born of her pregnancy." 

In November, 1656, the Princesse de Conde" gave birth, 
contrary to all her hopes, to a daughter, who was baptized 
Louise. While this little girl was still only a few months old, 
Jeanne Baptiste de Bourbon, Abbess of Fontevrault, wrote to 
Conde", offering her the succession to her abbey. The prince 
thanked the abbess for her good intentions, but suggested that 
it would be preferable to wait for better times, and that it was, 
besides, rather early to make his daughter a nun. The little 
princess did not assume the cross and mitre, since she died 
before she was three years old. 

The campaign of 1657, which opened with Conde's brilliant 
relief of Cambrai, closed with the loss of Mardyke and other 
places, for the incurable indolence of the Spanish generals 
hampered the prince at every turn. England had now formed an 
alliance with France, and, in the following year, the Spaniards, 
having, against the advice of Conde*, marched against the allies, 
who were besieging Dunkerque, sustained a crushing defeat in 
the battle of the Dunes. This disaster, followed by the capitu- 
lation of Dunkerque and the invasion of Flanders by Turenne, 
decided Philip IV. to make peace ; and, on 24 November, 1657, 
the Treaty of the Pyrenees brought the long war to a close. 

It closed also the exile and disgrace of Conde", who, thanks 
to the firmness of Spain, was not only permitted to return to 
France, but re-established in possession of all his property, 
honours and dignities, with the exception of the governments 
of Guienne and Berry, and the charge of Grand Master of the 
King's Household, which he was to surrender to the Due 
d'Enghien, retaining, however, the reversion of the post. In 
return for Philip IV.'s cession of Jiilich to the Duke of Neuburg 
and of the fortress of Avesnes to France, Louis XIV. conferred 


upon Conde the government of Burgundy and Bresse, of the 
chateau of Dijon, and of Saint-Jean-de-Losne ; and, as com- 
pensation for the duchy of Albret, which he had given to the 
Due de Bouillon, he invested him with that of the Bourbonnais. 
This last arrangement restored to this branch of the Royal 
House of France the title of Due de Bourbon, by which three 
of the later Princes de Cond6 preferred to be known. 

In return, nothing was demanded of the rebellious prince, 
except that he should disband his forces within two months, 
and declare his intention " to make reparation for the past by 
an entire obedience to all the commands of his Sovereign " in a 
letter which he was to write to his Majesty. Early in December, 
this missive reached Toulouse, where the Court then was, and, 
on the 2Qth of the same month, Conde, accompanied by the 
Due d'Enghien, quitted Brussels and set out for France. 
Madame la Princesse followed, after a short interval, with the 
little Mile, de Bourbon. She, at least, was able to return to her 
native land without bitterness and without remorse, since she 
had only acted in accordance with what she believed to be her 
duty to her husband. 


Arrival of Condd at the Court His reception He returns to Paris 
His ingratitude towards his wife Dignified behaviour of Madame la 
Princesse Affectionate relations between Condd and his son Indifference 
of the young prince towards his mother Marriage of the Due d'Enghien 
and Anne of Bavaria The affair of Poland Condi's conquest of Tranche- 
Comic" The mind of the Princesse de Conde* becomes affected The foot- 
man Duval Mysterious affair at the Hotel de Conde" : the princess is 
wounded in a brawl between Duval and the Comte de Bussy-Rabutin 
Singular attitude of Monsieur le Prince Trial of Duval Calumnies against 
the Princesse de Condd : letter of Madame de Sevignd The princess is 
exiled to the Chateau of Chateauroux, in Berry Her departure : a touching 
scene Her captivity Her hallucinations Visit of Pere Tixier. 

ON 4 January, 1660, Conde arrived at Coulommiers, 
whither the Due and Duchesse de Longueville had 
come to welcome him. After remaining there a week, 
the princess and her little daughter, who had joined her the 
day after her arrival, set out for Trie ; the Due d'Enghien was 
sent to Augerville, to the house of the President Perrault, a 
partisan of Monsieur le Prince, who had himself recently 
returned from exile ; while Conde, accompanied by his brother- 
in-law, continued his journey to Aix, in Provence, where the 
Court then was, to salute the King. At Lambesc, they were 
met by the Prince de Conti, who, after the surrender of 
Bordeaux, had made his peace with the Court and espoused one 
of Mazarin's nieces, the beautiful and virtuous Anne Marie 
Martinozzi. Conti must have felt a little uneasy as to the 
reception he was likely to meet with from the brother whose 
cause he had abandoned. However, Conde greeted him 
affectionately, and, though the intimacy which had once existed 
between them was never renewed, they remained on friendly 



On 27 January, Monsieur le Prince reached Aix and went 
at once to visit Mazarin, to whom, since the Peace of the 
Pyrenees, he had written several "rather civil" letters. The 
interview between the two old enemies, though necessarily 
somewhat constrained, passed off satisfactorily enough. Conde 
recognized that the Cardinal was now far too firmly seated 
in the saddle ever to be dislodged, while Mazarin felt that 
he could afford to be magnanimous. At its conclusion the 
prince was "introduced into the Queen's chamber, where 
he presented his respects to their Majesties." * The memoirs 
of the time, even those of la Grande Mademoiselle^ who does 
not conceal her chagrin at not having been able to learn 
anything are silent regarding this interview, which lasted 
more than an hour. No one seems to know what passed, but 
all are agreed that, when it was over, the Prince de Conde 
appeared to be as much at his ease at Court as if he had never 
left it. 

The following evening the prince supped with Mazarin, who 
entertained him magnificently, and who, a few days later, in 
writing to Lenet, spoke in the warmest terms of their " friend- 
ship and cordial relations." 

But, if the past were forgiven, it could not be forgotten, 
at least until time had enabled the prince to show that he was 
sincere in his professions of fidelity to his Sovereign. Cond6, 
recognizing this, did not prolong his stay at the Court, and on 
4 February he set out for Paris, where he was soon rejoined by 
his wife. In the capital he met with a most cordial reception ; 
the Parlement and the other Courts presented him with an 
address of welcome ; all Paris hastened to follow their example ; 
and the Hotel de Conde, so long deserted, was for some weeks 
the centre of animation. 

It was in this splendid residence which she had not entered 
since the death of her mother-in-law, ten years before, that a 
fresh and final disillusion awaited the long-suffering wife of the 
Great Conde. On her return from exile, Claire-Clemence 
might well have believed that a new life was about to begin for 

1 " Gazette de France," January, 1660. 


her a life in which she would be restored both to her place in 
Society and in her husband's house, and receive (abundant 
compensation for all the hardships and humiliations which she 
had experienced. Under what immense obligations had she 
not placed her husband ! Twice within two years she had 
brilliantly played the role of a party leader. At the peril of 
her life she had traversed the seas to bring him his son and to 
take her place by his side, and for long years had uncomplain- 
ingly endured all the bitterness of poverty and exile. Was it 
conceivable that a man could fail to be touched by so much 
courage, so much devotion ? Was it conceivable that, now that 
it was in his power to show his appreciation of all that she had 
suffered for his sake, he should not hasten to take advantage of 
the opportunity ? 

And the changes which;had taken place since their departure 
from France seemed to favour a better understanding between 
husband and wife. To " le temps de la bonne rtgence? * that era 
of facile and romantic gallantry, had succeeded one of regularity, 
order, and outward decorum, revealing a profound change in taste 
and morals. Of the salons which had been so much frequented 
before the Fronde, some were already nothing but a memory ; 
others retained the merest shade of their former reputation. 
Conde's old entourage no longer existed ; the band of pretty 
women whom his sister had gathered round her, and among 
whom he had moved as a kind of demi-god, was dispersed. 
Madame de Longueville herself had turned devote, and divided 
her time between her husband and children and her religious 
duties. Madame de ChStillon had found a second husband in 
the Duke of Mecklenburg, and, though she was still .residing in 
France, she seemed more anxious to secure his intervention in 
her lawsuits and her conjugal difficulties than to pick up the 
thread of their interrupted intrigue. 

Besides, Conde himself was no longer the dashing cavalier 

1 "J'ai vu le temps de la bonne regence, 

Temps ou regnait une heureuse abondance, 
Temps ou la ville aussi bien que la cour 
Ne respirait que les jeux et 1'amour." 

Saint-6vremond, "Stances a Ninon." 


of former times. Never very robust, his health had been 
severely tried by the fatigues of so many years of active service ; 
and already he was beginning to suffer from those attacks of 
gout which were to be the torment of his old age. Now, on the 
threshold of his fortieth year, weary and disillusioned, it seemed 
but natural that he should seek solace for his hardships and his 
thwarted ambition in the society of his wife and children. 

Conde had too much family pride to neglect his duties 
towards his son, but, notwithstanding all the claims which she 
had upon his consideration, his behaviour towards his wife 
showed no improvement. It was, indeed, more cold and distant 
than ever. In the winter, which he generally passed in Paris, 
he and the princess each had their apartments under the same 
roof ; they were seen together at State ceremonies ; on great 
occasions, it was the latter who did the honours of the H6tel de 
Conde*. But in the summer, Claire-Clemence never appeared 
at Chantilly, where Monsieur le Prince was accustomed to 
gather round him all the celebrities of the time, save on the 
rare occasions when her presence was formally requested ; soon 
she ceased to come there at all. Apart from attendance 
at official ceremonies and occasional visits to Saint-Maur, 
accompanied by a few persons of her suite, she seldom left the 
Hdtel de Conde, and led almost as retired a life as she had 
formerly passed among the Carmelites of the Faubourg Saint- 
Jacques. For the last and cruel disillusion which she had 
experienced had deprived her of all desire to mingle with the 
gay world around her. Too proud and too generous to complain, 
she gave as an explanation of her retirement the cares which 
her delicate health imposed, and the dignity of her behaviour 
gained for her the admiration and sympathy of all who 
penetrated the secret of this princely manage. 

But Condd's neglect was not the only trial which the poor 
princess had to endure. In the early years of her married life, 
she had been able to find some consolation for her husband's 
indifference in the affection of her son, the Due d'Enghien, 
whom she had kept constantly with her and to whom she was 
passionately devoted. But the boy, as we have mentioned, had 




been separated from his mother soon after their arrival in 
Flanders, and sent to the Jesuit College at Antwerp, since 
which time she had only seen him at long intervals. Monsieur 
le Prince, on the other hand, had superintended his son's 
education, and, as the lad grew older, he spent more and more 
of his time with his father, for whom he soon conceived the 
warmest admiration and affection ; while Conde", on his side, 
was tenderly attached to his son. Unhappily, these pleasant 
relations were established at the cost of the princess ; for the little 
consideration which his father, who could do no wrong in his 
eyes, showed for his mother was naturally not without its effect 
upon Enghien, and gradually the affection which as a boy he 
had entertained for the latter was replaced by the most complete 

Almost as soon as he re-entered France, Conde began 
to occupy himself with matrimonial projects on behalf of his 
son. If we are to believe la Grand Mademoiselle, overtures 
were made to her, and the Due d'Enghien was " ardently 
desirous for this marriage, and very assiduous in his attentions 
to her." The princess, however, excused herself, "on the 
ground of the great disparity of age between herself and the 
duke," though she informs us, in her " Memoires," that it was her 
suitor's " want of merit," and his " base mind," to which she 

No difficulty would, however, have presented itself had Conde 
been willing for his son to marry Mademoiselle's half-sister, 
Mile. d'Alenc;on. Madame la Princesse was very anxious for 
this alliance, as were several of the prince's counsellors ; but 
Conde had -other views for his heir, and had determined to 
marry him to Anne of Bavaria, second daughter of Edward 
of Bavaria, Prince Palatine, and of Anne de Gonzague, sister 
of the Queen of Poland. 1 

His reason for preferring an alliance with a foreign princess 
of the second rank and of little fortune to one which would 
have strengthened the position of the Condes, by uniting them 

1 Louise Marie de Gonzague. She had married in 1645 Ladislas IV. King of 
Poland, and, after his death, she became wife of his brother, John Casimir. 


to the younger branch of the Royal Family with its great 
possessions, was the belief that his son's marriage with a niece 
of the King and Queen of Poland would be of material assist- 
ance to him in the realization of an ambition which he had for 
some time cherished. 

This ambition was nothing less than Enghien's succession 
to the elective crown of Poland, which the reigning sovereign, 
the childless John Casimir, was prepared to abdicate so soon as 
a candidate likely to be acceptable to the great majority of his 
subjects could be found. This idea seems to have originated 
with the Queen of Poland, one of Conde's most intimate friends, 
who was using all her influence to secure the support of her 
husband and the Polish nobles, who in that State were masters 
of the throne, for the Due d'Enghien. 

Louis XIV. was not ill-disposed towards the Polish project, 
and, on 10 December, 1663, the marriage of the Due d'Enghien 
and Anne of Bavaria was celebrated in the King's chapel at the 
Louvre. A clause in ,the marriage contract stated that the 
King and Queen of Poland adopted the bride " as their only 
daughter." Meanwhile, however, it was becoming apparent 
that Cond6 himself was likely to be far more acceptable to the 
Poles than his son, and the French Court seemed to approve of 
this solution. At the beginning of 1665, John Casimir decided 
to abdicate, and Conde was preparing to start for Warsaw with 
Enghien whether it was his intention to get himself or his son 
elected is a moot point when Louis XIV., fearing to offend the 
Duke of Neuburg, a rival competitor, whose possessions of Berg 
and Jiilich commanded the passages of the Rhine and covered 
the Spanish Netherlands on the North-East, ordered him to 
renounce his candidature. "My cousin," said he, "think no 
more of the Crown of Poland ; the interest of my State is con- 
cerned in it." Conde reluctantly obeyed, and when, in June 
1669, John Casimir, who had been persuaded by the prince's 
friends in Poland to retain the crown until then, in the hope 
that circumstances might permit him to renew his candidature, 
Michael Wisnowiecki was elected. 

Conde received some compensation for the mortification 


which the Polish affair must have occasioned him in a brilliantly 
successful reappearance in command of a French army. On 
the outbreak of the Devolution War in 1667, the command of 
the forces which invaded the Spanish Netherlands was given to 
Turenne, and his great rival was left to languish in inaction at 
Chantilly. Without allowing himself to be discouraged, Conde 
secretly applied himself to drawing up a plan for the conquest 
of Franche-Comte. This plan he submitted to Louvois, the 
Minister for War, who persuaded the King to approve it, and 
to entrust its execution to the prince himself. On 4 February, 
1668, Conde crossed the frontier, and so skilfully had his 
measures been taken and so rapid were his movements, that in 
little more than a fortnight the whole province was at his feet. 
Louis XIV. immediately gave to the prince the government of 
the conquered territory ; but the Triple Alliance between 
England, Sweden and Holland was already forming, and the 
King was soon obliged to consent to peace, retaining his con- 
quests in the Netherlands, but restoring Franche-Comte to 

The Princesse de Conde had figured at the marriage of 
her son and at the subsequent festivities, but, after the young 
couple had established themselves at Chantilly, where a portion 
of the chateau had been placed at their disposal, she gradually 
disappeared from the Court and Society, and was never seen 
except at great official functions, where her rank necessitated 
her presence. Often she was ill and invisible for months at 
a time, and Conde and Enghien appeared very embarrassed 
when people inquired after the princess's health, and hastened 
to change the subject. A few notes preserved in the archives 
of Chantilly serve to explain what seems to have remained an 
enigma, even to the best-informed of contemporary chroniclers. 
In the autumn of 1664, we find Conde writing to his secretary 
Caillet as follows : 

"Make yourself acquainted with everything that my wife 
does at Saint-Maur ; inform me of everything that she does 
or says, and whether she still persists in her transports (emporte- 
ments). . . M. Perrault writes me that she spoke to him with 


moderation. I am a little dubious about that, for I hear from 
others that she is anything but moderate. . . . Endeavour, at 
any rate, to discover what has become of Duval, and if my wife 
has not seen him at Saint-Maur. ... I will inform you of what 
will have to be done in this matter. Show my letter to the 
Abbe Roquette and to Pere Bergier (the two spiritual directors 
of the family)." 1 

From these letters, it is very evident that Madame la 
Princesses mind was affected, a fact which is not surprising, 
when we consider that her mother, Nicole du Plessis, had 
always been eccentric, and, in her later years, quite insane ; 
that her father had been noted for [his morose disposition 
and violent temper, and that she herself had passed through 
so many agitations, hardships, and deceptions. It is, indeed, 
sad to reflect that the reason of this truly noble woman, who 
in war and exile had shown such admirable courage and forti- 
tude, should have given way at the very moment when she 
should have been enjoying the repose and happiness which she 
had so well earned. For this calamity the neglect and indiffer- 
ence of her ungrateful husband and her unnatural son were 
undoubtedly largely responsible. 

Abandoned by those who should have lavished upon her 
the most tender care, the unhappy Claire- Clemence became the 
prey of greedy and unscrupulous attendants. The man Duval 
mentioned by Conde* in one of his letters to Caillet was a foot- 
man of the princess, a person of some education and u de bonne 
conversation" to whom the lonely woman had attached herself. 
She gave him expensive presents and promised him a pension ; 
and Conde", warned of the influence which he was beginning to 
exercise over his wife, insisted on her dismissing him from her 

The dismissal of the only person who appeared to feel for 
her any sympathy aggravated for a time the malady of Claire- 
C16 mence, and was no doubt the cause of the " emportements " of 
which her husband speaks. But they do not appear to have 
lasted long, and by Holy Week 1655, she was sufficiently 
1 Letters of 28 September, 7 and 8 October, published by the Due d'Aumale. 


recovered to assist at the ceremonies of the Lord's Supper, 
when the Queen, in accordance with ancient custom, served at 
table twelve poor women, whose feet she washed. The Princesse 
de Conde", aided by Mile. d'Alengon and the Princess of Baden, 
carried the dishes to her Majesty. 

During the next six years, Claire-Cle'mence continued to 
lead the same secluded life, emerging now and again from her 
retirement to assist at some Court ceremony, such as the 
baptism of the Dauphin at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, on which 
occasion she was one of the princesses to whom fell the duty 
of dressing the infant prince. After this brilliant ceremony, 
however, the appearances of the princess in public became so 
rare that people appear to have almost forgotten her existence, 
when, at the beginning of 1671, a mysterious affair, which was 
to complete the ruin of her life, came to make her, for a moment, 
the talk of both Court and town. 

About two o'clock in the afternoon of 13 January, Claire- 
Clemence, having just dined, was alone in her apartments at the 
Hotel de Conde, when the door opened, and her former favourite, 
the dismissed footman, Duval, entered the room unannounced. 
The ease with which he had succeeded in making his way to 
the princess's apartments is explained by the fact that at this 
hour of the day all the servants were at dinner, and that there 
was no one at hand to inquire his business. Duval had come 
to demand money the arrears of the pension which the princess 
had promised him, but which, owing to the unsatisfactory state 
of her finances, had only been paid very irregularly. On being 
told that it was impossible to comply with his request at once, 
he became very insolent and spoke in so loud a tone that a 
young musketeer, the Comte Jean Louis de Bussy-Rabutin, 
formerly page to the Princesse de Conde*, who had just entered 
the ante-chamber, opened the door to see what was the matter. 
Rabutin, after asking the impudent rascal how he dared to 
address her Highness in such a manner, ordered him to leave 
the house immediately ; Duval angrily refused, and both drew 
their swords and rushed upon each other. The princess 
endeavoured to separate them, and received a wound "above 


the right breast," * which, though not dangerous, bled profusely; 
She fell to the ground in a swoon ; the servants, attracted by 
the noise, came rushing in, and the combatants, profiting by 
the confusion, succeeded in effecting their escape, though not 
before they had both been recognized. 

Such was the version which spread in Paris and was generally 
accepted, until the singular attitude of Conde piqued the 
curiosity of the public and invested the affair with an atmo- 
sphere of mystery and scandal. The prince, who had long 
sought an occasion for disembarrassing himself of a wife whom 
he had never loved, and who was no longer able to be of use 
to him, did not hesitate a moment to place the very worst 
construction upon what had occurred. Although suffering 
cruelly from the gout, he at once ordered his coach and set out 
for Paris, and, refusing even to see his wife, demanded of the 
King the punishment of a crime of Ihe-majeste and a lettre de 
cacftet against the princess. Louis XIV., who had been himself 
so far from conceiving any suspicions that he had already paid 
a personal visit to the injured lady, refused at first to accede to 
the latter request, and Conde" returned to Chantilly in a very 
bad temper. 

However, he was not the kind of person to be easily dis- 
couraged, and on 1 5 January, in the presence of the captain of 
his guards and the curd of Chantilly, he drew up and signed 
a document authorizing the Princesse de Conde" to make a 
donation of her property to her son, the Due d'Enghien. At 
the same time, he caused a deed to be prepared which stated 
that the princess, "on account of the tenderness and affection 
which she had always had for the person of the very high, very 
excellent and puissant prince Monseigneur Henri Jules de 
Bourbon, Due d'Enghien, her son, Prince of the Blood, peer 
and Grand Master of France, etc., etc., and to recognize the 
great respect and obedience which he had always had for her, 
made a donation to him of all her movable property, furniture, 
titles, actions, immovables, pretensions, in whatsoever place 
they might be situated, reserving, nevertheless, the enjoyment 

1 " Gazette de France," 17 January, 1671. 


by usufruct of all her said goods, during her lifetime, to dispose 
of them as might seem good to her." l 

The same day, the Due d'Enghien, accompanied by two 
notaries, proceeded to the H6tel de Conde, informed his mother 
of the wishes of Monsieur le Prince, and presented the deed for 
her signature. The unfortunate princess signed without demur 
this kind of anticipated will, in which it seemed that her 
husband desired to cut her off from the world of the living. 
She was no doubt under the impression that her compliance 
might suffice to appease the conjugal wrath, and did not appear 
to understand that it was tantamount to a confession that she 
was no longer responsible for her actions. 

As the Due d'Aumale observes, this deed had not the 
character of a spoliation, since the usufruct was respected and 
the free disposition of the princess's jewels and plate assured. 
Yet, when viewed in the light of what followed, it had an odious 
appearance, and nothing in this sad affair has more disposed 
public opinion against Conde and his son. 

Meanwhile, an active search had been made for the culprits. 
Duval was discovered at the house of a canon of the Sainte- 
Chapelle, whom he had persuaded to give him shelter, and 
conducted, with his hands tied behind his back, to the prison 
of the Faubourg Saint-Germain. Rabutin was more fortunate. 
After lying hidden for a week at the H6tel des Mousquetaires, 
he succeeded in effecting his escape to Germany, where he 
married a lady of royal blood, the Princess Dorothea of 
Holstein, and rose to high rank in the Imperial service. 

As the crime with which Duval was charged was that of 
having attempted the life of a Princess of the Blood, he was 
tried by the Grande Chambre and the Tournelle, sitting to- 
gether. The evidence of Claire-Cle'mence, taken on commission 
on 17 January, proved most unfortunate for her, since, from a 
generous but mistaken desire to shield two men who had been 
in her service Rabutin had not yet succeeded in effecting his 
escape from Paris, and the police were hunting for him high 

1 By a separate deed, the princess was permitted to dispose as she wished of her 
jewels and plate. 


and low she professed entire ignorance of the cause of the 
affray. Duval, she declared, had come to ask for money, of 
which he explained that he was in great need, and she had 
promised to give it to him in two or three days. (It will be 
observed that she said nothing about the loud and insolent tone 
in which he had demanded it, and which had been the cause of 
Rabutin's appearance upon the scene.) After he had left her, 
she had heard a commotion in the ante-chamber adjoining her 
salon, and, going out to see what was the matter, had received 
a wound in the breast, from which she immediately lost con- 
sciousness, without having recognized the persons who were 

Duval was three times interrogated. On the first two 
occasions he stoutly denied that he was in any way culpable, 
but on the third he confessed, and admitted that it was he who 
had wounded the princess. In view of the latter's reticence, 
however, the Court regarded these admissions with considerable 
suspicion, and, being of opinion that the charge was not fully 
proved, instead of condemning him to death, merely sentenced 
him to the galleys. 

The result of the proceedings against Duval, joined to the 
singular attitude of Monsieur le Prince, gave to the affair, in the 
opinion of a considerable section of the public, a new com- 
plexion ; and it was now freely asserted that the two men who 
had drawn upon each other in the princess's presence had been 
rivals in her affections. Such was the view taken by Madame 
de Sevign6, who, in a letter to her cousin Bussy, 1 thus expresses 

"I have just been told of an extraordinary adventure which 
occurred at the H6tel de Conde", and which deserves to be 
related to you. Here it is : Madame la Princesse having con- 
ceived an affection for one of her footmen named Duval, the 
latter was foolish enough to suffer impatiently the good-will 
which she likewise testified for the young Rabutin, who had 

1 Roger de Rabutin, Comte de Bussy (1618-1693), the celebrated letter-writer 
and author of the scandalous " Histoire amoureuse des Gaules," which procured him 
a year in the Bastille and a sixteen years' exile from the Court. 


been her page. One day, when they both happened to be in 
her chamber, Duval having said something that was wanting 
in respect to the princess, Rabutin drew his sword to chastise 
him. Duval drew his also, and the princess, throwing herself 
between them to separate them, was wounded in the breast. 
Duval has been arrested, and Rabutin has taken to flight. 
However honourable the subject of the quarrel may be, I like 
not the name of a footman coupled with that of Rabutin." l 
To which her scandal-loving correspondent replies : 
" Our cousin's adventure is neither beautiful nor ugly ; the 
mistress does him honour, and the rival shame." 

At the same time, most of her contemporaries refused to 
believe that the sweet and unfortunate Claire-Clemence had been 
seriously culpable, and, though several of Conde's biographers, 
to efface a stain on the escutcheon of their hero, have not 
hesitated to reproduce this calumny, others, such as Louis 
Joseph de Bourbon and Earl Stanhope, are of a different 
opinion, and blame severely the conduct of the prince. 2 " How 
is it possible," asks the latter, " to think that the suspicion of 
the prince was well founded ? How can we believe that a 
princess married nearly thirty years, and, up to this time, 
entirely free from the slightest imputation always held sacred 
by calumny, which spares so few, ever irreproachable in the 
midst of a most corrupt Court could have waited till the age 
when passions have subsided to indulge them ? How reconcile 
such irregularities with that exalted piety which she had 
practised from her youth upwards ? How can we, without any 
proof, admit such accusations against the woman who had 
always devoted herself so courageously and constantly to the 
service of a husband who slighted her? Against the heroine 
of Montrond and Bordeaux ; against Cle'mence de Maill^ ? 
And again, what accusations ? Not only of an illicit attachment, 
but the shameless sharing of her favours between two of her 
own domestics ! " 3 

1 Letter of 23 January, 1671. 

* The best informed of all, the Due d'Aumale, adopts a neutral attitude, being 
of opinion that there is not sufficient evidence to condemn either Conde or his wife. 

* " Life of Louis, Prince of Conde, surnamed the Great." It should be 


Condd, who had never scrupled to jeer at the conjugal 
misfortunes of others, now, in his turn, became an object of 
ridicule. Chansons and epigrams at his expense began to 
circulate in Paris, and served to exasperate him still further 
against his wife. In the first days of February, he again 
demanded of the King a lettre de cachet, and this time Louis 
XIV. did not refuse, and signed an order which exiled the 
princess to the Chateau of Chateauroux, in Berry. No time 
was lost in executing it, and as soon as the doctors pronounced 
her able to stand the fatigue of the journey, she left Paris. 

On the day of her departure, she sent for the cure of Saint- 
Sulpice, with whom she had a long conversation. " Monsieur," 
said she, as she bade him farewell, " this is the last time that 
you will speak to me, since I shall never return from the place 
to which the King is sending me. But the confession which I 
now make to you will proclaim my innocence for ever." Her 
parting from her son was heartrending, and, after embracing 
him again and again, she swooned away in his arms. As soon 
as she recovered, the carriage started for Chdteauroux. 

The chateau which Cond had selected as his wife's prison, 
and where she was destined to remain for the rest of her days, 
stands upon a hill on the left bank of the Indre, and commands 
a magnificent view of the surrounding country. It was built by 
Raoul le Large, seigneur de D6ols, about the middle of the tenth 
century, 1 an age when security was naturally the primary con- 
sideration, and, though its sombre appearance had been a good 
deal modified from time to time, it was still far from a cheerful 

The princess was followed thither by her whole Household : 
dame d'honneiir, chevalier d'konneur, equerry, almoner, physician, 
apothecary, comptroller, waiting-women, chef, scullions, coach- 
men and footmen ; and an allowance of 50,000 livres a year was 
made her for the maintenance of this establishment. She was 

mentioned that the distinguished historian declines to believe that the princess had 
as yet exhibited any signs of insanity, but in this he is quite mistaken. 

1 The seigneurie of Chateauroux was in 1497 erected into a county in favour of 
Andr de Chauvigny. In 1613 it was acquired by Henri II., Prince de Conde", who, 
three years later, obtained letters-patent evicting it into a duchy-peerage. 


permitted to walk in the grounds of the chateau, and even to 
take carriage exercise in the vicinity, but always very carefully 
watched and guarded ; while no stranger was under any pretext 
allowed to approach her. Apart from these restrictions, she 
was treated, at any rate at first, with all the consideration and 
respect due to her exalted rank, and her captivity was not of 
the harsh and brutal character with which some writers have 
invested it. 

Nevertheless, the isolation to which she was subjected, the 
deadly monotony of her existence in this gloomy fortress, soon 
began to have its effect upon her already tottering reason. Her 
disorder took the form of terror. From incessant brooding over 
her wrongs, the husband who had repaid her unselfish devotion 
with such harshness and ingratitude became, in moments of 
hallucination, a monster who, not content with burying her alive, 
was resolved to rid himself of her altogether, and frequently 
she refused to touch dishes that were offered her, from fear 
lest they should contain poison. 

In 1675, in consequence of some rumours which had reached 
her that her sister-in-law was being ill-treated by those to whose 
care she had been entrusted, Madame de Longueville, more 
compassionate than the rest of her family, requested Pere 
Tixier, a Benedictine monk in whom she had every confidence, 
to proceed to Chateauroux and ascertain if there were any 
justification for these reports. The monk, however, before 
undertaking this mission, considered it advisable to inquire if it 
would be agreeable to Monsieur le Prince, who was likewise a 
valued patron of his. Conde" raised no objection. " You will 
go to Chateauroux," said he, " since my sister wishes it, and will 
see whether Madame la Princesse has everything she requires ; 
for, such as she is, she is my wife, and I do not wish her to 
want for anything. But do not speak of me to her at all, 
you understand." 

On his arrival at Chateauroux, Pere Tixier was presented to 
the princess, who was about to sit down to dinner. " Father," 
said she, " you belong to Monsieur le Prince, who sends you to 
see me." " No, Madame," replied the good man, " I am a monk, 


and the monks belong to God." " Oh ! " rejoined the princess, 
" I understand ; " and she declared her conviction that Cond6 had 
sent him to confess her, because he intended to have her made 
away with. Tixier endeavoured to reassure her, and the officer 
whom Conde* had placed in charge of his wife, and " who I saw 
clearly," says the monk, " treated her very roughly," exclaimed : 
" Morbleu ! Madame, at your usual fables again ! Will you 
never be sensible ? " 

Dinner was served, and, after the soup, a dish of cod was 
brought in. The princess partook of it with relish, and asked for 
a second helping. The dish, however, had just been removed, 
and, when it was brought back, she declined to touch it, saying 
that it had been to the kitchen and that there had been suffi- 
cient time to mix with it some fatal ingredient. The officer 
remonstrated. " But," said he, " does not everything that is 
served you, Madame, come from the kitchen ? " Nevertheless, 
the unfortunate woman refused to listen to reason. 

The princess, having at length been persuaded by Pere 
Tixier that he had merely come, at Madame de Longueville's 
request, to inquire as to her welfare, begged him to convey her 
most grateful thanks to her sister-in-law. For her husband, she 
had no message and spoke of him with aversion. " Monsieur le 
Prince" said she, "greatly despised me, but I greatly despised 
him also." * 

1 "Pere Tixier," by MM. Lemoine and Lichtenberger, "Revue de Paris," 15 
November, 1903. 


Termination of Condi's military career His retirement at Chantilly 
His improvements of the chateau and estate His son, the Due d'Enghien 
(Monsieur le Due) Portrait of this prince by Saint-Simon His tyrannical 
treatment of his wife His singular habits Malicious practical joke which 
he perpetrates on the Due de Luxembourg His amours with the Duchesse 
de Nevers, the Marquise de Richelieu, and the Comtesse de Marans His 
natural daughter by Madame de Marans legitimated and married to the 
Marquis de Lassay His lack of military capacity His children The 
education of his only son, the Due de Bourbon, superintended by Conde' 
Marriage of the young prince to Mile, de Nantes, elder daughter of Louis XIV. 
and Madame de Montespan The wedding-night Conversion of Conde* 
His last illness His death His funeral oration by Bossuet The 
Princesse de Condd remains in captivity Her death. 

71 MONSIEUR LE PRINCE probably troubled himself 
1 VJ. very little about his unhappy wife's feelings towards 
him. Having brought his military career to a 
triumphant close by restoring the fortunes of France in 
Alsace and driving the Imperialists across the Rhine, he had 
retired definitely to Chantilly, to spend the remaining years 
of his life in as much peace as his implacable enemy, gout, 
would permit. 

In this delightful spot, his leisure was cheered by the society 
of all the celebrities of his time. There were to be met warriors, 
statesmen and ambassadors, divines and philosophers, poets, 
painters, scientists and wits. No general set out to join his army 
without coming to take leave of the great captain and discuss 
with him his plan of campaign ; no distinguished foreigner 
visited Paris without paying homage at Chantilly ; no author of 
repute published a book without sending a copy to the prince 
who was "thought the best judge in France both of wit and 
learning." l 

1 Bishop Burnet, " History of his own Time." 

And so he grew old, honoured and adulated by all : 

" Tranquille et glorieux 
II vit a Chantilly comme on vit dans les cieux." * 

Conde had a natural taste for gardening even during his 
imprisonment at Vincennes he had amused himself by cultivating 
carnations and his greatest pleasure in his declining years was 
to embellish the retreat which he had chosen for himself. In 
1662, he had begun the enlargement of the park, and, under the 
direction of the celebrated gardener Le Notre, parterres were 
traced around the chateau, long alleys, bordered by trim hedges, 
stretching away into the forest began to make their appearance, 
and trees, shrubs, and rare plants were gathered from all quarters. 
But want of money imposed prudence, and it was not until some 
years later, when Monsieur le Prince's finances were once more 
in a satisfactory condition, that the work took a wide scope- 
Then it was that Gitard constructed the grand staircase ; that 
Mansart built the Orangerie, and commenced the Menagerie ; that 
the aqueduct which brought to Chantilly the water of the fountain 
of the Hotel-Dieu-des-Marais was made ; that the parterres were 
completed and new avenues pierced in all directions ; that the 
fountains which " were silent neither day nor night" 2 were erected, 
and that Chantilly began to assume the appearance which it was 
to retain until the Revolution. 

Conde, however, had another and more important occupation 
in his retirement than the embellishment of Chantilly. 

One of the greatest disappointments of the prince's life was 
his only son, the Due d'Enghien, to whom, as we have mentioned, 
he was most tenderly attached. As a child, Monsieur le Due 
to give him his official designation had been charming, but this 
early promise had unhappily not been fulfilled, either in appear- 
ance or in character ; while, though he undoubtedly possessed 
great abilities, he was quite incapable of employing them to any 
useful purpose. Saint-Simon has drawn of him one of his most 
arresting portraits : 

" He was a little man, very thin and slenderly made, whose 

1 Saint-vremond. " Stances irr^gulieres." 

2 Bossuet, " Oraison funebre du Grand, Conde." 




countenance, though somewhat mean, was still imposing from 
the fire and intelligence of his eyes ; while his nature was a 
compound as rare as could be met with. No man was ever 
endowed with a keener or more varied intelligence, which 
extended even to the arts and mechanics, and was joined to an 
exquisite taste. No man had a more frank or more natural 
courage, or a greater desire to shine ; and, when he wished to 
please, he did so with so much tact, grace, and charm that it 
seemed spontaneous. Neither was any man more accomplished 
in invention and execution, in the pleasures of life, in the magnifi- 
cence of fetes, by which he often astonished and delighted in 
every conceivable way. But, then, no man had ever before so 
many useless talents, so much futile genius, or so lively and active 
an imagination, solely employed to be his own curse and the 
scourge of others. Abjectly and basely servile, even to lackeys, 
he scrupled not to use the lowest and paltriest means to gain 
his ends. Unnatural son (to his mother), cruel father, terrible 
husband, detestable master, pernicious neighbour ; without 
friendship, without friends incapable of having any jealous, 
suspicious, ever restless, full of artifices to discover everything 
and to scrutinize all (in which he was unceasingly occupied, 
aided by an extreme vivacity and a surprising penetration) ; 
choleric and headstrong to excess, even over trifles, never in 
accord with himself and keeping all about him in a tremble, he 
caused the unhappiness of every one who had any connection 
with him. To conclude, impetuosity and avarice were his 
masters, which monopolized him always. With all this, he was 
a difficult man to resist, when he brought into play the pleasing 
qualities he possessed." 

To his unfortunate wife, Anne of Bavaria, he was a veritable 
tyrant. She was ugly, virtuous, and stupid, a little deformed, 
and not very clean in her person ; but this did not hinder him 
from being furiously jealous till the end of his life. Nor were 
her piety, the unwearying attentions she lavished upon him, her 
gentleness, and her novice-like submission able to protect her 
from frequent insults, and even from blows and kicks. The poor 
woman was hardly allowed to call her soul her own. " She was 


not mistress even of the most trifling things ; she did not dare 
to propose or to ask anything. He would make her start on a 
journey the moment the fancy took him, and often, as soon as 
she was seated in the carriage, he would make her descend again, 
or return from the end of the street, and recommence the jour- 
ney after dinner or the next day. Once this kind of thing 
lasted for fifteen days running, before a journey to Fontainebleau. 
At other times, he would summon her from church, and make 
her leave High Mass, and sometimes would even send for her 
when she was on the point of receiving the Communion ; and 
she would be obliged to return on the instant and defer her 
Communion until another occasion. This he did, not because 
he wanted her, but merely to gratify his whim." 

He was always uncertain in his movements, and had four 
dinners prepared for him every day : one in Paris, a second at 
Ecouen, a third at Chantilly, and a fourth wherever the Court 
might be at the moment. But the expense of this arrangement 
was not so great as might be supposed, for the menu consisted 
merely of soup and half a chicken roasted upon a crouton of 
bread, the other half serving for the following day. He rarely 
invited any one to dine with him, but, when he did* no one 
could be more courteous or more attentive to his guests. 

He delighted in practical jokes, generally of an extremely 
malicious kind, of which the following will serve as an 
example : 

The Due de Luxembourg, 1 son of the celebrated marshal, 
had a young and pretty wife, 2 who suffered, like a good many 
other ladies about the Court, from excessive sensibility, a fact 
which was "known to everybody in France except her 
husband." On the occasion of a visit of the Court to Marly, 
both M. de Luxembourg and his consort were invited to take 
part in a masquerade. Monsieur le Due undertook to provide 
the former with what he declared to be a highly original 
costume, and, since he enjoyed the reputation of being a 
great authority on such matters, his offer was gladly accepted. 

1 Charles Francis Frederic de Montmorency-Boutteville. 

2 Marie de Clerambault. 



Thereupon the malicious prince proceeded to array his uncon- 
scious victim in various fantastic garments, which he crowned 
with a gigantic pair of antlers, which almost touched the 
candelabra. Thus attired, he was conducted into the ball- 
room, where, by a sudden shifting of his mask, his identity was 
quickly revealed. When the company perceived who it was 
who was thus parading the emblem of a deceived husband, a 
great shout of laughter rang through the room, which redoubled 
when the luckless Luxembourg, mistaking the hilarity which 
his appearance aroused for a tribute to the originality of his 
costume, bowed repeatedly. 

In his youth, Monsieur le Due, like most of his family, was 
very much addicted to gallantry. When his affections were 
engaged, nothing cost too much, and "he made some amends 
for a shape which resembled a gnome rather than a man." * 
" He was grace, magnificence, gallantry personified a Jupiter 
transformed into a shower of gold. Now, he disguised himself 
as a lackey ; another time, as a female vendor of articles for 
the toilette ; anon, in some other fashion. He was the most 
ingenious man in the world." 2 

Among the great ladies who smiled upon him was the 
lovely and fascinating Gabrielle de Thianges, who became, in 
1670, the wife of the Due de Nevers, the brother of the 
famous Mancini sisters. 3 " Few women," says Saint-Simon, 
" have surpassed her in beauty. Hers was of every kind, with 
a singularity which charmed." And he declares that when 
she died, at the age of sixty, she was " still perfectly beautiful." 

If we are to believe Madame de Caylus, the duchess, 
after the fall of her aunt, Madame de Montespan, had, at 
that lady's suggestion, made an attempt to capture the 
affections of the King, " in order to keep the royal favour in 
the family," and that it was only upon the failure of this 
intrigue that she resolved to content herself with Monsieur le 
Due. But, whatever may have been the lady's feelings towards 

1 Madame de Caylus. Saint-Simon. 

3 Philippi Mancini. Mazarin had bequeathed to him the duchy-peerage of 
Nivernois and Donzois, which he had purchased from the Duke of Mantua, in 1659. 


him, Monsieur le Due was desperately enamoured of her, and 
the fertility of resource which he displayed and the sums he 
appears to have expended in order to enjoy her society were 
really astonishing. 

Voltaire asserts, in a note to the first edition of the 
Souvenirs of Madame de Caylus, that, for the purpose of 
entering secretly into the apartment of the duchess, he had 
bought the two houses on either side of the Hdtel de Nevers. 
Saint-Simon goes much further and says that, to conceal their 
rendezvous, " he rented all the houses on one side of a street 
near Saint-Sulpice, furnished them, and pierced the connecting 
walls." If we are to believe this anecdote, the Marshal de 
Richelieu must have been but a feeble plagiarist when, many 
years later, he adopted a similar means of entrance into the 
Palais-Royal and the Hotel de la Popeliniere. 1 But since 
Saint-Sulpice, though close to the Hotel de Cond, was a long 
way from the Hotel de Nevers, we must confess that we do not 
quite see how such operations were to bring Monsieur le Due to 
the side of his beloved. Perhaps, however, Saint-Simon intends 
us to understand that, in order not to excite the least suspicion, 
the prince was in the habit of entering a house at one end of 
the street, and the lady one at the other extremity, and of 
meeting in the middle. Any way, it seems rather a tall story, 
even for Saint-Simon. 

Despite so many precautions, the Due de Nevers scented 
treason, and resolved to escape it by the procedure which he 
usually adopted in such circumstances, namely, by carrying 
his wife off to Rome. 2 " M. de Nevers," writes Madame de 
Caylus, " was in the habit of setting off for Rome in the same 
way as any one else would go out to supper ; and Madame 
de Nevers had been known to enter her carriage in the 
persuasion that she was only going for a drive, and then to hear 
her husband say to the coachman: "To Rome." In time, 

1 See the author's " The Fascinating Due de Richelieu " (London, Methuen ; 
New York, Scribner, 1910). 

2 The Due de Nevers had inherited under his uncle's will the Palazzo Mazariui, 
at the foot of the Quirinal, and frequently spent the winter there. 


however, the lady began to know her husband better and to 
be more on her guard against him, and happening to discover 
his intention of taking her upon another of these sudden 
journeys, she promptly warned her lover and begged him to 
devise some means of averting, or, at any rate, of postponing, 
their threatened separation. 

Now, the Due de Nevers, like all the Mancini, had a very 
pretty turn for verse-making, of which he was inordinately 
vain, and nothing delighted him more than to hear his poetical 
effusions recited before an appreciative audience. Aware of 
this little weakness, Monsieiir le Due resolved to lay a trap 
for him, into which he felt convinced he could not fail to fall. 
But let us listen to Madame de Caylus : 

" Monsieur le Prince* equally fertile of invention as reckless 
of expense whenever his tastes or passions were concerned, 
judged, from the knowledge he possessed of the character of 
M. de Nevers, that he might easily divert him from his intended 
expedition, by affording him an opportunity of employing his 
talent and exercising his passion for making verses. He pro- 
posed, therefore, to give a fete to Monseigneur* at Chantilly. 
The invitation was given and accepted, when he hastened to 
M. de Nevers, informed him of the entertainment, and, pre- 
tending that he was in a great difficulty about the choice of a 
poet to write the words of the divertissement^ begged him, as a 
favour, to find him one. Upon which M. de Nevers offered 
himself, just as Monsietirle Due had foreseen. To conclude, the 
fete took place it cost more than one hundred thousand crowns 
and Madame de Nevers did not go to Rome." 

Thus Madame de Caylus. But Saint-Simon gives another 
version of this story, according to which the laugh, at the last, 
was on the side of M. de Nevers : 

"The Due de Nevers, all jealous, all Italian, all full of 
intelligence that he was, had never conceived the least suspicion 
of this fte, although he was not ignorant of the love of 

1 This episode occurred in 1688, nearly two years after the death of the Great 
Conde, when Monsieur le Due had become Monsieur le Prince. 
8 The Grand Dauphin, only son of Louis XIV. 


Monsieur le Prince for his wife. However, five days before it 
took place, he ascertained the reason why it was being given. 
He said not a word about it, but started for Rome the very 
next day with his wife, and remained there for a long time ; and, 
in his turn, scoffed at Monsieur le Prince? 

Another grande dame whom the duke honoured by his atten- 
tions was the Marquise de Richelieu, 1 a lady whom Saint-Simon 
mentions, " because she is not worth the trouble of being silent 
about." According to the same chronicler, he fell madly in 
love with this siren, and " spent millions upon her, and to keep 
himself informed of her movements." One fine day, he dis- 
covered, to his profound indignation, that he had a successful 
rival in the person of the Comte de Roucy. He reproached the 
marchioness bitterly with her treachery, and, though she assured 
him that she had been cruelly maligned, he had her so closely 
watched that very soon the charge was brought home to her 
beyond any possibility of denial. In vain, did the culprit 
entreat his forgiveness ; in vain, did she swear by all that she held 
sacred that Roucy's love was as nothing to her in comparison 
with his, and that she would never see him again. The 
infuriated prince refused to be placated and turned to leave her. 
Then the fear of losing so prodigal a lover " suggested to the 
marchioness an excellent expedient for setting his mind at 
rest." She proposed to give Roucy a rendezvous at her house, 
and that some of Monsieur k Due's people should lie in wait ; 
and, when the count appeared, make away with him. But, 
instead of the success she appears to have expected from this 
very Italian proposal, 2 the prince was so horrified that he im- 
mediately sent to warn Roucy, and never saw Madame de 
Richelieu again. 

A third inamorata of Monsieur le Due, of whom we should 
have perhaps spoken before, since she was one of the loves of 
his youth, whereas his liaisons with the Duchesse de Nevers 

1 Marie Charlotte de la Meilleraye-Mazarin. She was a daughter of Armand de 
la Porte-Meilleraye-Mazarin, Due de Mazarin, and the beautiful Hortense Mancini, 
Mazarin's favourite niece. On his marriage, the former added the cardinal's 
name to his patronymic, and was created Due de Mazarin. 

2 Madame de Richelieu was, of course, an Italian on her mother's side. 


and the Marquise de Richelieu belong to his riper years, was 
the widowed Comtesse de Marans, often mentioned in the 
letters of Madame de Sevigne, who speaks of her with unusual 
bitterness, owing, it is believed, to some disparaging remark 
which she had once let fall concerning the writer's beloved 
daughter, Madame de Grignan. The countess was an extremely 
pretty woman, but the most inconsequent and extravagant 
creature in the world. According to Madame de Sevigne, she 
had been heard to declare that she would rather die than 
surrender herself to a man whom she loved ; but, if a man loved 
her and she did not find him altogether odious, she would be 
willing to yield. Whether or no she loved Monsieur le Due, 
she surrendered herself to him, and, in 1668, presented him 
with a daughter. The girl was at first known as Mile, de 
Guenani, which is the anagram of her father's duchy of Anguien 
(the old orthography of Enghien). But, in 1692, she was 
legitimated, and took the name of Julie de Conde, Mile, de 
Chciteaubriant. Brought up at first at Maubuisson, she was 
later sent to the Abbaye-aux-Bois, from which retreat, however, 
she occasionally emerged to pay visits to her relatives at 
Chantilly or Saint-Maur. At this time, there seems to have 
been some idea of her taking the veil, but she was so pretty, 
intelligent, and amusing, that it was eventually decided that 
she should remain in the world, and, in 1696, she married the 
Marquis de Lassay, a middle-aged widower, celebrated for his 
amorous adventures, who had been for some time past 
desperately in love with her. The bride received a dowry of 
100,000 livres, as well as 20,000 livres for the expenses of her 
trousseau; while Lassay was appointed the King's lieutenant 
in the Bresse. It is to be feared, however, that the amorous 
marquis had reason to regret his bargain, for, if gossip does not 
lie, before she had been married a week, the lady had provided 
herself with a lover. 

Many and grave as were the faults of Monsieur le Dtic, it is 
probable that Conde would have suffered them with comparative 
equanimity if his son had inherited in any degree his own 
genius for war. But, singularly enough, with all the intelligence 


and quickness of perception which he displayed in other direc- 
tions, Enghien never showed the smallest aptitude for his 
father's profession. " So great a warrior as Monsieur le Prince? 
writes Saint-Simon, "was never able to make his son under- 
stand the first principles of the art of war. He made this 
teaching for a long time the principal object of his care and 
study. His son tried to do the same, but was never able to 
acquire the slightest aptitude for any portion of the art, 
although his father concealed nothing from him, and was 
constantly explaining all that relates to it at the head of his 
army. He always took him with him, and endeavoured to give 
him a command near himself, of course, in order to counsel 
him. This plan of instruction succeeded no better than the 
others. Finally, he despaired of his son, gifted though he was 
with such great talents, and ceased his endeavours, with what 
grief may be imagined. 

In fairness to Monsieur le Due, however, it should be 
mentioned that, if he had inherited none of his father's military 
genius, he had at least inherited his valour, and, on more than 
one occasion, he displayed conspicuous courage. Thus, at the 
sanguinary battle of Seneffe (n August, 1774), when Conde's 
horse had been killed under him, and the prince had been 
thrown with great violence to the ground, Enghien threw 
himself before him, and was himself wounded in assisting him 
to rise. 

Of nine children whom Anne of Bavaria had borne the Due 
d'Enghien, four daughters and a son had survived. * The boy, 

1 I. Marie Therese de Bourbon, born I February, 1666 ; married in 1688 Louis 
Franois, Prince de Conti ; died in 1732. 

2. Louis de Bourbon, born n October, 1668; became Louis III., Prince de 
Conde in 1709 ; died the following year. 

3. Anne Marie Victoire de Bourbon, Mile, de Conde, born 1 1 August, 1675 ; 
died unmarried 23 October, 1700. 

4. Anne Louise Benedicte de Bourbon, Mile, de Charolais, born 8 November, 
1676 ; married in 1692 the Due de Maine, son of Louis XIV. and Madame de 

5. Marie Anne de Bourbon," called Mile, de Montmorency, and later Mile. 
d'Enghien, born 24 February, 1678 ; married in 1710 the Due de Vendome ; died in 


Louis, Due de Bourbon, was in his eighth year when Conde 
retired definitely to Chantilly, and Monsieur le Prince^ in the 
hope of developing in the son the qualities which he had not 
found in the father, and of perhaps living to see him rise up and 
continue the glorious traditions of the family, desired to direct 
his education himself. Monsieur le Due, whose time was fully 
occupied by his duties at the Court, and who still retained his 
former habits of submission to his father's will, consented ; and 
Conde decided to have his grandson educated on the same 
system which had proved so successful in his own case. 
Established at the Petit- Luxembourg, with his gouverneur 
Deschamps, 1 his tutors the Jesuit Fathers Alleaume et du 
Rosel, and one of Monsieur le Prince's equerries, Le Bouchet, 
who directed his physical exercises, the young duke attended 
the courses of the College de Clermont, passing his vacations at 
Chantilly, whither his tutors always accompanied him. 

All the masters and professors under whom the boy studied 
were vigorously seconded by Cond6, who maintained with them 
an almost daily correspondence, while he was continually 
exhorting his grandson to apply himself to his studies. The 
Due de Bourbon, however, though he was not without ability, 
was incurably indolent, and, despite all the efforts of his 
teachers and the reprimands of Monsieur le Prince, his progress 
both at the College de Clermont and at Louis-le-Grand, to 
which he was transferred when he was fourteen, was most dis- 
appointing. It was evident that Conde" had not taken into 
sufficient consideration the great difference in temperament 
between himself and his grandson, and that a system which had 
produced such splendid results in his own case was quite 
unsuited to this idle, pleasure-loving lad. 

The duke was accordingly removed from college, and, on 
the advice of Bossuet, Condd decided to keep him under his 
own eye at Chantilly, and to entrust the rest of his education 
to La Bruyere and the distinguished mathematician Sauveur. 
This plan worked excellently for some months, and Monsieur 
le Prince -was full of hope ; but, unfortunately, the Due d'Enghien, 

1 Jean Auguste Deschamps, Sieur de Cotecoste. 


to whom the possession of the royal favour was of infinitely 
more importance than anything else in the world, considered 
that the time had now arrived to bring his son to the notice of 
the ,King and initiate him into his duties as a courtier, and 
desired that he should pay occasional visits to Versailles. 
These visits, which, on some pretext or other, were frequently 
prolonged far beyond the limit which Cond6 had fixed, naturally 
did not make for the young gentleman's progress in his studies, 
for, though his tutors always accompanied him, he soon became 
so absorbed in the pleasures of the Court that they thought 
themselves fortunate if they could obtain from him an occasional 
hour of distracted attention. La Bruyere was in despair and 
appealed to Monsieur le Prince, who remonstrated vigorously 
with Enghien. "Your son," he writes, "will become a very 
good huntsman, but ignorant of everything that he ought to 
know. It is for you to remedy it, and to think of his life, his 
health, and his good education. I beg you to consider it, and 
not to wait to remedy it until it is too late." 

Cond and Enghien were, however, at cross-purposes ; the 
one wished to form a man, a prince, a captain ; the other 
thought only of making his son an accomplished courtier. 
That the hope of the Condes should be an invariable guest at 
Marly was in the latter's eyes a more desirable thing than that 
he should command armies ; that he should secure the reversion 
of the governments and offices which had been bestowed upon 
his father was of more importance than that he should inherit 
his grandsire's fame. 

It must be admitted that Enghien was indefatigable in his 
endeavours to further what he conceived to be the interests of 
his son. "With the prudence and calculation of an officer 
experienced in sieges, he pursued his plan, seeking to take pos- 
session of all the avenues which could conduct him to the heart 
of the King ; hunting and shooting-parties, masquerades, ballets, 
fetes at Marly, served him as approach-works ; a direct attack 
that he was preparing could not fail to assure for his son the 
royal favour." 1 

1 Due d'Aumale, " Histoire des Princes de Conde." 


This "direct attack," which was delivered in June, 1684, 
on the occasion of the visit which Louis XIV. paid to 
Chantilly, on his return from the siege of Luxembourg, took 
the form of demanding for the Due de Bourbon the hand of 
Mile, de Nantes, the elder of the King's two surviving daughters 
by Madame de Montespan, who had celebrated her eleventh 
birthday a few days previously. To the intense joy of Monsieur 
le Due, it was completely successful, and his Majesty graciously 
consented to bestow the hand of his legitimated daughter on 
the heir of the Conde"s. Owing, however, to the tender age of 
the young lady, the arrrangement remained a secret for some 
months, and it was not until the following April that it was 
made public. 

This was not the first alliance between the fruit of le Grand 
Monarques amours and the Princes of the Blood. In January, 
1684, Condi's nephew and ward the young Prince de Conti 1 
had espoused Louise de la Valliere's daughter, Mile, de Blois, 
on which occasion, we learn from Madame de SeVigne that 
Monsieur le Prince, who had always clung to the bygone fashion 
of moustaches and a chin -tuft, astonished the Court by appear- 
ing clean-shaven, with his hair curled and powdered, and a 
justaucorps adorned with diamond buttons. 2 But, although Conde 
approved of the marriage arranged for his grandson, he was far 
from approving of the latter interrupting his studies to take 
upon himself conjugal responsibilities. However, such was the 
Monsieur le Duds impatience to see the young prince become 
the son-in-law of the King that he ultimately withdrew his 

1 Louis Armand de Bourbon (1661-1685). He must not be confused with his 
younger, and far more celebrated brother, Fra^ois Louis de Bourbon (1664-1709) 
who succeeded him in the title, up to which time he was known as the Prince de la 

* " I will tell you a great piece of news ; it is that Monsieur le Prince was 
shaved yesterday. This is no mere lumour or gossip ; it is a fact ; all the Court 
witnessed it ; and Madame de Langeron, choosing the time when he had his paws 
folded like a lion, made him put on a justaucorps with diamond buttons. A valet de 
chambre also, taking advantage of his patience, curled his 'hair, powdered it, and at 
last reduced him into being only the best-looking man at Court, and with a head of 
hair that puts all wigs out of competition. This was the prodigy of the wedding." 
Letter of 17 January, 1680. 


objections, and Louis XIV. having also proved complaisant, the 
marriage was celebrated, in the chapel at Versailles, on 24 July, 

So far as people were able to judge from features which 
were hardly yet formed, the twelve-year-old bride gave promise 
of being very pretty ; and this promise was duly fulfilled. As 
much could not be said for the bridegroom. Both the Due and 
Duchesse d'Enghien were short, though of no unusual diminutive- 
ness, but their son was almost a dwarf, 1 and a very ugly one to 
boot, with an abnormally large head, an unwholesome com- 
plexion, and a surly expression. 

The union of these two marionettes, as the Marquis de 
Sourches calls them, was celebrated with extreme magnificence, 
and " the Great Conde" and his son left nothing undone to testify 
their joy, just as they had left nothing undone to bring about 
the marriage." 2 The King secured to the duke the reversion 
of all the offices held by his father and gave him a pension of 
90,000 livres, and to his daughter one of 100,000 livres. 

In the evening, the happy pair proceeded to the pretended 
consummation of their marriage, without which the ceremony 
through which they had just passed would not have been con- 
sidered binding. In the presence of the King and all their 
relatives, they entered a state bed, where they remained for half 
an hour, the Duchesse d'Enghien standing by the bridegroom's 
side, and Madame de Montespan by that of the bride. This 
solemn farce terminated, they separated, not to meet again for 
several months, except in the presence of witnesses ; and the Due 
de Bourbon went back to his interrupted studies, which Monsieur 
le Prince had insisted on his continuing. 

The year which saw the marriage of the Due de Bourbon 
marks a very important event in the life of his grandfather. The 
religious instruction of Conde" had been as thorough as the 
other branches of his education, and, in early youth, he appears 
to have been as orthodox a Catholic as any one could desire, 

1 The Great Conde, who was tall, used to say, laughing, that, if his race thus 
continued to dwindle, it would at last come to nothing. 
* "Souvenirs et Correspondancede Madame de Caylus." 




and even to have shown some degree of fervour. However, his 
life of war and pleasures soon brought indifference, and the 
society of fashionable freethinkers, like Saint-fevremond and the 
celebrated Princess Palatine, combined with the difficulty he 
experienced in reconciling the doctrines of the philosophers 
whose works he was fond of studying with the theological 
teaching of the time, raised doubts in his mind which eventually 
led to a very pronounced form of unbelief. At the same time, 
he declared himself to be always open to conviction of his errors, 
and one of his favourite occupations in his later years was to 
engage in theological discussions with Bossuet, the Oratorian 
Malbranche, and other eminent divines. 

The death of his beloved sister, Madame de Longueville, who, 
in April, 1679, crowned twenty-seven years of penitence and good 
works by a truly Christian death, at which Conde" was himself 
present, made a profound impression upon him, and he was even 
more impressed by that of his old friend, the Princess Palatine, 
who, after declaring that the greatest of all miracles would be 
her conversion to Christianity, had for the last twelve years been 
leading a life of almost equal devotion. From that time, the 
discussions between Conde and Bossuet became more frequent, 
and little by little the prince began to surmount the obstacles 
which barred his return to the fold. 

It was, however, a Jesuit, Pere des Champs, formerly a fellow- 
pupil of Conde at Bourges, who was to finish the work which the 
great bishop had begun. At the beginning of Holy Week, 1685, 
the prince summoned him to Chantilly ; for several days they 
remained closeted together, after which Conde descended to the 
chapel and received the Sacrament, in the presence of all his 
Household. Some weeks later, he communicated publicly at the 
Church of Saint-Sulpice, in which parish the Hotel de Conde* 
was situated. 

For some time past Conde's health had been such as to 
occasion grave anxiety ; his attacks of gout were becoming more 
frequent and more severe, and he was often so feeble that he 
was unable to walk without assistance. When, at the end of 
May, 1686, although in great pain, he insisted on coming to 


Versailles to attend a Chapter of the Ordre du Saint- Esprit, at 
which the cordon bleu was to be bestowed on the Due de Bourbon 
and the Prince de Conti, the fatigue which the journey and the 
ceremony entailed exhausted him to such a degree that, accord- 
ing to Sourches, those present " expected every moment to see 
him die." 

Towards the middle of the following November, news reached 
Chantilly that the little Duchesse de Bourbon had been taken 
seriously ill with small-pox at Fontainebleau, where the Court 
was then in residence. Notwithstanding that he was again 
suffering from the gout, Monsieur le Prince at once ordered his 
coach and set off for Fontainebleau. On the road he met the 
Due de Bourbon and his eldest sister, Mile, de Conde", whom the 
King had sent to Paris, so that they should not be exposed to 
the contagion. Alarmed at their grandfather's appearance, they 
endeavoured to persuade him to turn back, but he insisted on 
continuing the journey. Arrived at Fontainebleau, he shut 
himself up with the Duchesse de Bourbon and " rendered her 
all the cares not only of a tender father, but of a zealous 
guardian." 1 The girl, however, grew worse, and Louis XIV., 
on learning of his daughter's danger, wished to come and see 
her. " Monsieur le Prince? writes Madame de Caylus, " placed 
himself at the door to prevent him entering, and there ensued a 
great struggle between parental love and the zeal of a courtier, 
very glorious for Madame la Duchesse? The writer adds that 
the King, being the stronger, went in, notwithstanding Condi's 
resistance, but, according to other chroniclers, his Majesty was 
so touched by his cousin's zeal for his safety that he ended by 
allowing him to have his way. 

Soon after this incident, the Duchesse de Bourbon's illness 
took a turn for the better, and at the end of a fortnight she was 
pronounced convalescent. Cond6's presence was no longer 
necessary ; but the change in his manner of life, the sleepless 
nights, the fatigue and the anxiety he had endured, had been 
too much for an old man whose constitution was already so 
shattered, and it was evident that his days were numbered. 
1 " Souvenirs et Correspondance de Madame de Caylus." 


He had expressed a wish to die at Chantilly, and it was hoped 
that it might be possible to gratify it. But, on the morning of 
10 December, he became much weaker, and was warned that it 
was time to think of, the Sacraments. He desired that Pere 
des Champs should be summoned from Paris, and, turning to 
Gourville, observed : " Ah well ! my friend, I believe my journey 
will be a longer one than we thought. But I wish to write to 
the King." And, after a vain attempt to write himself, he 
dictated to his confessor, Pere Bergier, a letter to Louis XIV., to 
implore his pardon for the Prince de Conti, who had been for 
some time in disgrace and seemed likely to remain there. 

In the middle of the night, feeling worse, he made his con- 
fession and received absolution from Pere Bergier, Pere des 
Champs not having yet arrived, and at daybreak the cure of 
Fontainebleau brought him the Viaticum. Shortly afterwards, 
Monsieur le Due arrived with the news that the King had, on 
his own initiative, pardoned the Prince de Conti, for the letter 
which Monsieur le Prince had dictated the previous day had not 
yet been despatched. This intelligence was a great relief to 
Conde, who caused a few lines to be added to the letter, thanking 
his Majesty for his kindness and assuring him that he should 
now die content. 

Conti and Pere des Champs arrived a little later, and, with 
the Due and Duchesse d'Enghien, remained with him to the 
end, which came very peacefully between seven and eight o'clock 
in the evening. "No one," wrote the British Ambassador, the 
Earl of Arran, to his Government, " ever died with less concern, 
and he preserved his senses to the last minute." 

After lying for some days in the mortuary chapel at Fon- 
tainebleau, which had been transformed into a chapelle ardente, 
the body of Conde 1 was conveyed to Valery and interred in the 
family vault. His heart was deposited in the Jesuit church 
in the Rue Saint- An toine. "In carrying to the same place the 
heart of my uncle, the Comte de Clermont," writes his great- 
grandson, " I had an opportunity of seeing all the hearts of our 
ancestors, which were deposited there, enclosed in silver-gilt 
cases ; and I remarked (as did also those who accompanied me) 


that the heart of the Great Conde" was nearly double the size of 
all the others." l 

On 10 March, 1687, a solemn service was held at Notre-Dame. 
The funeral oration, pronounced by Bossuet, is generally con- 
sidered the masterpiece of that famous preacher, and is the 
greatest of all the tributes rendered to the memory of Conde. 

"At that moment" (during his last hours), exclaimed the 
orator, "he (Conde") extended his consideration to the most 
humble of his servants. With a liberality worthy of his birth and 
of their services, he left them overwhelmed with gifts, but still 
more honoured by the proofs of his remembrance." But for the 
woman who had so gloriously borne his name, who uncom- 
plainingly shared his misfortunes, Conde, on his deathbed, had 
not a word of tenderness, of gratitude, or of pardon. Nay, if 
we are to believe la Grande Mademoiselle, on the morrow of 
his master's death, Gourville carried to Louis XIV. a letter 
written some time before, to be given him after that event, in 
which Conde entreated the King never to allow the princess to 
leave her prison at Chateauroux. 2 

However that may be, Claire-Cle"mence never quitted that 
gloomy fortress, either living or dead ; for, when she died, after 
surviving her husband more than seven years (18 April, 1694), 
she was interred in the Church of Saint-Martin, which lay 
within the precincts of the chateau. " No member of her illus- 
trious family appears to have attended her obsequies, and doubt- 
less the twelve poor people whom she had had the charity to 
maintain out of her meagre allowance, with some Capuchins 
from the neighbouring convent, were the only persons who came 
to pray over the grave of her who, for her misfortune, had 
become " the very high, very excellent and puissant Princesse 
de Conde." 3 

1 Louis Joseph de Bourbon, Prince de Conde, "Histoire de la Maison de 

2 Mademoiselle de Montpensier, " Memoires." 

3 MM. Homberg & Jousselin, " la Femme du Grand Conde." During the Revolu- 
tion, some ruffians forced open the chapel in which was the tomb of the unfortunate 
princess, carried off the leaden coffin and scattered its contents. 


Henri-Jules de Bourbon, fifth Prince de Conde* His affection for 
Chantilly Improvements which he executes there The " Galerie des 
Batailles " His business capacity His relations with his son, the Due de 
Bourbon (Monsieur le Due) Character of this prince His ungovernable 
temper and vindictiveness His intrigue with Madame de Mussy She 
betrays him for the Comte d'Albert A violent scene Madame de Mussy 
follows her new lover to Spain Her sad fate Other amours of Monsieur 
le Due Character of Madame la Duchesse Her intrigue with the Prince de 
Conti Her grief at his premature death Last years of the Prince de Cond^ 
His eccentricity becomes hardly distinguishable from madness Anecdotes 
concerning him His death His last instructions to his son The Due de 
Bourbon retains his title, instead of assuming that of Prince de Conde* His 
sudden death, eleven months after that of his father. 

THE son and grandson of the Great Conde have left but 
few traces in history, and the little which is recorded 
of them does not, as a rule, redound to their credit. 
Succeeding to the offices as well as to the titles of his father, 
Henri- Jules de Bourbon was appointed colonel of the infantry 
Regiment of Conde" and mestre de camp of the cavalry corps of 
the same name, and took part in several campaigns, being 
present at the capture of Mons in 1691, and of Namur in the 
following year. During the latter part of the campaign of 1692, 
he was nominally second in command of the Army of Flanders, 
but no opportunity for distinction seems to have come his way, 
and soon afterwards ill-health obliged him to retire from active 
service. Henceforth, he divided his time between the Court, 
Paris, and Chantilly, though, as he grew older, the Court appears 
to have lost the attraction it had once had for him, and, when 
there, he remained most of the day in his apartments, only 
emerging to attend the King at his lever and couclter, or to 
visit the Ministers, whom, when he happened to want anything 



from them, it was his habit to importune to the verge of 

Chantilly was "his delight." When he walked in the 
gardens, he was followed by four secretaries, to whom he 
dictated any ideas which occurred to him for the improvement 
of the chateau or the estate. He spent immense sums upon 
them, and with the happiest results, for he possessed the most 
exquisite taste. It was he who finished the parish church, 
erected upon land which had been given by his father to the 
inhabitants of the town, completed the Menagerie, and built 
the gallery in the Petit Chateau, the Galerie des Batailles. In 
the pictures representing the history of the Great Conde which 
by his orders were painted for it, he was very reluctant to omit 
the actions which Conde" had performed when in command of 
the armies of Spain. At the same time, he felt that he could 
not venture to expose to the eyes of Frenchmen the exploits 
which had been directed against themselves. The painter 
professed himself unable to suggest any means of reconciling 
his patron's wishes with his scruples, but, at length, the prince 
bethought himself of a most ingenious way out of the difficulty. 
He caused a picture to be painted in which the Muse of History 
was represented tearing with indignation, and flinging far away 
from her, the pages of a book which she held in her hands. 
On these pages were inscribed : " The Relief of Cambrai " ; 
"The Relief of Valenciennes"; "The Retreat from before 
Arras " ; while in the centre of the picture stood the Great 
Cond6, endeavouring to impose silence on Fame, who, with 
trumpet in hand, was proclaiming his exploits against France. 1 

The prince could well afford to indulge his taste for the 
embellishment of Chantilly, since he had inherited the business 
acumen of his grandfather and amassed a great' fortune, though, 
according to Saint-Simon, he was " a beggar in comparison with 
those who came after him." He does not appear to have been 
over scrupulous in his methods of acquiring wealth, and made a 
practice of lending large sums to the members of the Parlement 

1 Desormeaux, " Histoire de la Maison de Bourbon " ; Stanhope, " Life of Louis, 
Prince de Conde, surnamed the Great." 


of Paris, in order to ensure their support in the lawsuits in 
which he was perpetually engaged, in view of which it is not 
surprising to learn that it was very rarely that a verdict was 
given against him. 

With his son, who, on the death of the Great Conde", had 
retained the title of Due de Bourbon, instead of assuming that 
of Enghien, which both his grandfather and father had borne, 
but was now officially styled Monsieur le Due, he appears to 
have been on anything but cordial terms, though the harshness 
with which he sometimes treated him was tempered by a whole- 
some fear of the King, whose son-in-law he was. It must be 
admitted, however, that the Due de Bourbon was scarcely the 
kind of son to inspire affection, even in a parent with an 
infinitely greater capacity for it than Monsieur le Prince 
possessed. Not only was he almost repulsive in appearance, 
but he was cursed with so violent a temper that it was 
positively dangerous to contradict him. One evening, when 
entertaining some friends at Saint-Maur, he had an argument 
with the Comte de Fiesque over some historical incident. 
When the count refused to admit that he was wrong, Monsieur 
le Due sprang to his feet in a violent rage, and, snatching up a 
plate, hurled it at his guest's head, and then turned him out of 
the house, although, having been invited to stay the night, he 
had sent away his coach. The unfortunate Fiesque was obliged 
to make his way to the house of the cure of the parish and beg 
a bed from him. 

He was, moreover, exceedingly vindictive, and any one 
whom he even suspected of doing him an ill turn speedily had 
cause to rue it. Thus, on one occasion, having reason to believe 
that a certain escapade of his in Paris, which had earned him a 
severe reprimand from his royal father-in-law, had been brought 
to the King's notice by the Marquis de Termes, one of his 
Majesty's premiers valets de chambre, he despatched several of 
his servants, armed with stout canes, to lie in wait for the 
supposed informer. They ambushed him successfully and admin- 
istered so unmerciful a castigation that he was obliged to keep 
his bed for several days. 


Saint-Simon accuses him of a love of brutal practical jokes, 
and asserts that the death of the Latin poet Santeuil, at Dijon, 
in 1694, was due to his having given him a glass of champagne 
into which he had emptied the contents of his snuff-box. But 
we can find no confirmation of this story, and probably there 
is no more truth in it than in a good many other of Saint- 
Simon's anecdotes. 

Notwithstanding the indolence which in his youth had been 
the despair of his tutors, the pains bestowed upon his education 
had been by no means wasted, and even his enemy Saint-Simon 
is fain to admit that he was a well-read and intelligent man. 
In war his abilities were infinitely superior to those of his 
father, and had he enjoyed, like him, the advantage of the Great 
Conde's training, it is quite probable that he would have made a 
name for himself, that is to say, if Louis XIV., who had little 
liking for his son-in-law, could ever have been persuaded to 
entrust him with an independent command. Between 1688 
and the Peace of Ryswick he served in several campaigns, and 
proved himself a very capable officer, as well as displaying 
brilliant courage, notably at the siege of Namur and in the 
battles of Steenkirke and Neerwinden. In the campaigns of 
the War of the Spanish Succession he took no part, and it 
would seem that, in spite of his military talents, or perhaps 
because of them, Louis XIV. did not desire to employ him. 

With his wife Monsieur le Due lived on good terms, though, 
in common with most aristocratic husbands of the time, he 
unfortunately found it impossible to concentrate his affections 
upon their lawful object. Of his mistresses the most noted was 
the beautiful Madame de Mussy. She was a little woman, but 
exquisitely shaped, " with a dazzling complexion and ravishing 
arms and bosom." The wife of a counsellor to the Parlement 
of Dijon, " who was too much in love with the wine of Beaune 
to guard a treasure so difficult to defend," Monsieur le Due had 
met her when he was presiding over the Estates of Burgundy 
in place of his father, and, profiting by her husband's addiction 
to the bottle, had paid her a court which was soon crowned with 
success. When, at length, the bibulous counsellor learned what 


had been going on under his very nose, he was furious, and 
" carried his resentment even so far as to give his wife several 
blows." His violence furnished the lady with a pretext for 
leaving him which she was not slow to seize, and, while M. de 
Mussy was petitioning the Parlement of Dijon for a decree 
empowering him to have her shut up in a convent, she effected 
her escape, followed her lover to Paris, and threw herself upon 
his protection. This the prince readily promised, and, shortly 
afterwards, Madame de Mussy found herself the occupant of 
a luxuriously-furnished house in the precincts of the Temple, 
where she was soon surrounded by a little Court, which was 
composed not only of the Marquis de la Fare, the Abbe 
Chaulieu, the Comte de Fiesque and other friends of Monsieur 
le Due, but also of several ladies of the Court, such as the 
Duchesse de Bouillon and the Marquise de Bellefonds, who 
were not too particular what company they kept, so long as it 
was sufficiently amusing. 

La petite Mussy, if she had been prudent, might have con- 
tinued to live a life of luxury and pleasure for many years, for 
the passion which she had inspired in the heart of Monsieur le 
Due was no ephemeral one. But, unfortunately for her, she 
happened to meet, one night at the Opera, that notorious lady- 
killer, the Comte d'Albert, who, after being banished from 
France, on account of his intrigue with Madame de Luxem- 
bourg, had recently been expelled from Brussels, for making 
himself too agreeable to the Mile. Maupin the heroine of 
Theophile Gauthier's romance then mistress of the Elector of 

The count, having no other amorous engagement on hand just 
then, decided to make a conquest of Madame de Mussy. The 
task was, of course, easy enough for a gentleman who, we are 
assured, had only to show himself to ensure an immediate 
capitulation, and soon Madame de Mussy had become as in- 
different to her titular lover as she had formerly been to her 
husband. Monsieur le Due, "finding that she no longer 
responded to his caresses with her accustomed ardour," had her 
watched, and ere long discovered the truth. His wrath was 


terrible, though, happily, he contented himself by venting it upon 
the furniture, mirrors, and porcelain of his perfidious mistress, 
among which he raged with such fury that in a few moments 
the apartment was strewn with the wreckage of what had 
represented a comfortable little fortune. 

Madame de Mussy, whom love for her fascinating count had 
inspired with a courage of which she might not have other- 
wise been capable, boldly faced the storm, and informed the 
infuriated prince that " she was not his wife, that he had nothing 
wherewith to reproach her, and that she was in love with the 
Comte d' Albert, who was far more amiable than his Highness, 
as he might judge for himself by taking the trouble to look in a 

Monsieur le Due, beside himself with passion, swore that he 
would hand her over to her husband, who would take good care 
to have her shut up in a convent for the rest of her days, and 
took his departure, vowing vengeance. 

Knowing enough of the vindictive character of the prince to 
be aware that this threat was no idle one, Madame de Mussy 
recognized that she ought not to lose a moment in placing her- 
self beyond his reach. The Comte d'Albert, now reinstated in 
the good graces of the Elector of Bavaria, had recently set out 
for Madrid, where he had been appointed that prince's envoy, 
and she at once resolved to follow him thither. That same 
night, accompanied by her confidential femme de chambre and 
subsequent historian, Mile. Valdory, she left Paris, disguised in 
masculine attire, and, after many adventures, for the War of the 
Succession was then raging in Spain, reached Madrid in safety. 
She had expected to find there the Comte d'Albert and 
consolation for her hardships and misfortunes in his arms ; but 
not only was she deceived in this hope, but she learned that 
her lover was false to her, and that he had recently con- 
sented, doubtless for a substantial consideration, to make an 
honest woman of Mile, de Montigny, a cast-off mistress 
of the Elector of Bavaria. Worn out by the fatigues and 
privations she had suffered during her journey from Paris, 
devoured by jealousy, and tortured by remorse, the unhappy 


Madame de Mussy fell into a decline and died six months 
later. 1 

As for Monsieur le Due, he consoled himself for his mistress's 
perfidy by a liaison with Madame de Rupelmonde the wife of 
a Flemish gentleman in the Spanish service whom Saint- Simon 
describes as " brown as a cow and possessed of unparalleled impu- 
dence." To this lady succeeded a certain Madame Locmaria, 
who was soon replaced, in her turn, by the pretty daughter of 
an upholsterer in the Rue des Fosses-Monsieur-le-Prince. 2 

Madame la Duchesse, however, had certainly no right to take 
exception to her husband's little affairs, for, though Madame de 
Caylus assures us that she " lived with him like an angel," it 
would seem that her marriage vows sat very lightly upon her. 
This daughter of Madame de Montespan was an exceedingly 
pretty, accomplished, and charming young woman ; but, if she 
had inherited her mother's beauty, intelligence, and fascination, 
she had also her full share of that too celebrated lady's less 
agreeable qualities, being selfish, extravagant, and deceitful, 
while her mordant wit made her universally! dreaded. " Her 
wit shines in her eyes," writes Madame ; "but there is some 
malignity in them also. I always say that she reminds me of a 
pretty cat which, while you play with it, lets you feel its claws." 
" Although she was slightly deformed," says Saint-Simon, " her 
face was formed by the most tender loves and her nature made 
to dally with them. . . . She possessed the art of placing every 
one at their ease ; there was nothing about her which did not 
tend naturally to please, with a grace unparalleled, even in her 
slightest actions. She made captive even those who had the 
most cause to fear her, and those who had the best of reasons to 
hate her required often to recall the fact to resist her charms 
. . . Sportive, gay, and merry, she passed her youth in frivolity 
and in pleasures of all kinds, 3 and, whenever the opportunity 
presented itself, they extended even to debauchery. With 

1 " Histoire de Madame de Muci," par Mile. B (Valdory), Amsterdam, 1731 ; 

"le Nouveau Siecle de Louis XIV. " ; Desnoiresterres, "les Cours galantes." 

2 " Memoires du Comte de Maurepas." 

* Her chief pleasure appears to have been gambling, which is scarcely surprising, 
when we consider that she was the daughter of a woman who had been accustomed 


these qualities, she possessed much intelligence and much 
capacity for intrigue and affairs, with a suppleness which cost 
her nothing. She was scornful, mocking, bitterly sarcastic, 
incapable of friendship and very capable of hatred ; mischievous, 
haughty, implacable, prolific in base artifices and in the most 
cruel chansons, with which she gaily assailed persons whom she 
pretended to love and who passed their lives with her. 1 She was 
the siren of the poets ; she had all their charms and all their perils." 
The charms of the young princess naturally drew around her 
many adorers ; but, though she had neither affection nor esteem 
for her husband, and was far from insensible to the homage 
which was paid her, her conduct would not appear to have merited 
any very severe censure until some years after her marriage, 
when a soupirant presented himself whom it would have been 
difficult for any woman to resist. This was Louis Francois de 
Bourbon, Prince de Conti, the young man for whose pardon, it 
will be remembered, the Great Cond6 had petitioned Louis 
XIV. on his death-bed. This pardon had unfortunately been 
a merely formal one, for the prince had far too much of his 
famous uncle's temperament, that is to say, the temperament of 
the Conde of the Regency and the Fronde, ever to secure the 
favour of le Grand Monarque, who always regarded with 
suspicion those who showed any independence of character, 
particularly if they happened to belong to the Royal House. 
In consequence, though he possessed a natural instinct for war, 
combined with the most superb courage, and appeared destined 
for a brilliant military career, nothing would induce the King 

to win and lose several hundred thousand francs at a single sitting, and had on one 
memorable occasion lost over two million. In May, 1700, Dangeau informs us that 
Madame la Duchesse wrote to Madame de Maintenon to tell her that she had lost 
" from 10,000 to 12,000 pistoles [from 100,000 to 120,000 livres], which it was im- 
possible for her to pay just then." Madame de Maintenon showed the letter to the 
King and begged him to come to his daughter's assistance. His Majesty consented, 
and, after requesting that a detailed statement of the whole of the lady's liabilities 
should be drawn up and submitted to him, paid them in full, without saying a 
word to her husband, which was distinctly kind of him. 

1 In the chansons attributed to her, some of which are undeniably clever, she 
exercised her satirical wit at the expense of the Due and Duchesse de Bourgogne, 
Madame de Maintenon, her husband, and even her royal father. 




to allow him to hold high command, and he had the mortifica- 
tion of seeing himself passed over in favour of generals who 
were manifestly his inferiors. 

Conti was a tall and rather awkward-looking man, with 
irregular but pleasing features, and the most charming manners 
which made him a universal favourite. He was married tc 
Marie Therese de Bourbon, the eldest daughter of Monsieur U 
Prince, who adored him and of whom he appears to have been 
fond ; but this did not prevent him from falling in love with 
Madame la DucJiesse, who returned his passion with equal 
fervour. Monsieur le Due was furious, but he did not dare to 
quarrel openly with his brother-in-law, and, besides, thanks to 
the complaisance of the Dauphin, who was much attached both 
to his half-sister and to Conti, and gave the lovers many 
opportunities of meeting at his country-house at Meudon, " the 
affair was conducted with such admirable discretion that they 
never gave any one any hold over them." 1 

It has sometimes been asserted that the prince's infatuation 
for Madame la Duchesse lost him the throne of Poland, to which, 
through the skilful intrigues of the Abbe de Polignac, the 
French envoy at Warsaw, he had been elected, by a majority 
in the Diet, on the death of John Sobieski, in 1697. But, 
although it is true that he was exceedingly loth to leave 
France and his mistress, and employed every possible pretext 
to delay his departure for Poland, it is very doubtful whether, 
without far stronger support than Louis XIV. was prepared to 
give him, an earlier arrival upon the scene would have enabled 
him to triumph over so formidable a competitor as Augustus of 

At the beginning of 1709, Louis XIV.'s dislike of Conti 
at length yielded to the danger of the country, and the prince 
was informed that he had been selected to command the 
Army of the North in the approaching campaign. This tardy 
recognitiop of his undoubted merits came, however, too late. 
For some time past he had been in very bad health, and on 
21 February he died, at the early age of forty-five. 

1 Saint-Simon. 


His death, which was regarded as a public calamity, so great 
had been his popularity and so high the opinion formed of his 
military talents, was a terrible blow to Madame la DucJiesse. 
" He was the only one to whom she had been faithful," writes 
Saint-Simon ; " she was the only one to whom he had not been 
fickle ; his greatness would have done homage to her, and she 
would have shone with his lustre." " She had need of all the 
command which she had naturally over herself," observes 
Madame de Caylus, " to conceal her grief from Monsieur le Due. 
She succeeded, the more easily, I believe, because he was so 
relieved at no longer having such a rival that he cared neither 
to investigate the past nor the depths of the heart" 

The untimely death of the Prince de Conti was followed, at 
an interval of a few weeks, by that of Monsieur le Prince, who 
had long been in failing health. 

During the latter years of his life the eccentricity for which 
he had always been noted had become more and more pro- 
nounced, until at last, if Saint-Simon is to be believed, it was 
hardly distinguishable from madness. Calling one morning 
on the Marchale de Noailles, at the moment when her bed 
was being made, and there only remained the counterpane to be 
put on, he paused for a moment at the door, and then, crying 
out in a transport of delight : " Oh ! le beau lit, le beau lit, qu'il 
est appetisant / " he took a flying leap on to the bed and rolled 
over several times. Then he got down and made his excuses 
to the astonished old lady, saying that her bed looked so clean 
and so beautifully made that he had been unable to resist the 
temptation to roll in it. 

It was whispered that there were times when he imagined 
himself a dog or some other animal, and Saint-Simon declares 
that " people very worthy of belief had assured him that they 
had seen the prince at the King's coucher suddenly throw his 
head into the air several times running and open his mouth 
quite wide, like a dog while barking, yet without making a 

He also began attending in a ridiculously minute manner to 


his diet, and insisted that everything he ate should first be 
carefully weighed. In the course of his last illness, which was a 
very protracted one, he suddenly announced that he was dead, 
and refused all nourishment, on the ground that dead men did 
not eat. The doctors were in despair, but, at length, they 
decided to humour him in his delusion that he had ceased 
to exist, but to maintain that dead men did occasionally 
eat They offered to produce examples of their contention, 
and several men unknown to their illustrious patient were 
accordingly brought in, who pretended to be dead, but ate 
nevertheless. This trick succeeded, and for the remaining 
weeks of his life the prince consented to take food, but only in 
the presence of the doctors and his fellow- corpses. 

As Monsieur le Prince grew worse, his wife summoned up 
sufficient courage to beg him to think of his conscience and to 
see a confessor. He angrily refused, and persisted in his refusal, 
notwithstanding her tears and supplications. As a matter of 
fact, he had been seeing Pere de la Tour of the Oratory for some 
months past, though in the strictest secrecy. He had at first 
demanded that the reverend father should come to him by night, 
and in disguise. Pere de la Tour replied that he would be quite 
willing to visit Monsieur le Prince under cover of darkness, but 
that the respect he owed to the cloth would not permit him to 
masquerade in the attire of a layman. After some hesitation, 
the penitent consented to waive this condition ; but he caused 
the most elaborate precautions to be taken to prevent his visitor 
being recognized. He was admitted, at dead of night, by a 
little back door, where a confidential servant of the prince, with 
a lantern in one hand and a bunch of keys in the other, was 
waiting to receive him, and conducted to the sick-room along 
dark passages and through many doors, which were unlocked 
and locked again after him as he passed. Having at length 
reached his destination, he confessed Monsieur le Prince^ and 
was then conducted out of the house by the same way and in 
the same manner as he had entered it. Similar precautions 
were observed on each of his subsequent visits. 

Henri Jules de Bourbon, fifth Prince de Conde", died on 


i April, 1709, at the age of sixty-six. His last instructions to 
his son were to carry out all the improvements which he had 
projected at Chantilly, and to take care that none of the honours 
due to his rank were omitted at his funeral. 

And so he passed away, " regretted by no one, neither by 
servants nor friends, neither by child nor wife. Indeed, Madame 
la Princesse was so ashamed of her tears that she made excuses 
for them." * 

The Due de Bourbon, for he preferred to retain his old title, 
instead of assuming that which his grandfather had rendered so 
illustrious an example which was followed by his son, and, a 
century later, by the last head of his House did not live to 
carry out his father's projects at Chantilly, since he survived him 
less than a year. He had been suffering for some time from 
continual pains in the head, " which tempered the joy he felt at 
being delivered from his troublesome father and brother-in- 
law." a His mother, much alarmed, had besought him to think 
of his soul, and this he had promised to do, as soon as the 
Carnival and its pleasures were over and the fashionable season 
for penitence had arrived. On the evening of Shrove Monday 
(3 March, 1710), as he was driving home over the Font-Royal from 
the H6tel de Coislin, he was seized with a fit and carried in an 
unconscious condition to the H6tel de Conde\ Priests and doctors 
were speedily in attendance, but he never recovered consciousness, 
and died about four o'clock in the morning. 

" Madame la Duchesse" writes Madame de Caylus, " appeared 
infinitely afflicted by his death, and I believe she was sincere." 
But the chronicler is careful to explain that this affliction was not 
caused by any love for the departed prince, but " because, since 
the death of the Prince de Conti, her mind and heart were 
occupied by nothing but ambition, 3 and Monsieur le Due possessed 
all the qualities necessary to make her conceive great hopes in 
that direction." 

1 Saint-Simon. * Ibid. 

3 But, if we are to believe Saint-Simon, her heart was partially occupied by the 
Comte de Le"on, a son of the amorous Lassay by his first marriage, who, " although 
he had the face of a monkey, was perfectly well-made." 


Louis Henri de Bourbon- Conde* He assumes the title of Due de Bourbon, 
instead of that of Prince de Condd, and is known as Monsieur le Due His 
personal appearance He loses an eye by a shooting-accident His military 
career He becomes President of the Council of Regency on the death of 
Louis XIV. His protection of John Law His wealth His character His 
marriage with Marie Anne de Bourbon-Conti Singular intrigue which 
precedes it His indifference to his wife His amours The financier 
Berthelot de Pldneuf Gallantries of Madame de Pleneuf Saint-Simon's 
portrait of her Her daughter, Agnes de Ple"neuf Singular beauty and 
intelligence of this young girl Violent jealousy which her mother conceives 
for her Marriage of Agnes to the Marquis de Prie, who is soon afterwards 
appointed Ambassador at Turin Her life at Turin Disgrace and bankruptcy 
of Berthelot de Pleneuf Financial straits of the de Pries Madame de Prie 
comes to Paris to intercede with the Government on her husband's behalf 
Calumnies concerning her spread by her mother and her partisans Her 
elations with the Regent. 

BY his marriage with Mile, de Nantes, Louis III., Due de 
Bourbon, had had nine children three sons and six 
daughters all of whom survived him. * The eldest 
son, Louis Henri, hitherto known as the Due d'Enghien, was, 
at the time of his father's death, in his eighteenth year. Like 
the latter, he preferred the title of Due de Bourbon to that 
of Prince de Conde", and, like him, was henceforth styled 
Monsieur le Due. In contrast to his father, who had been very 

1 Here is the list : 

1. Marie Gabrielle Eleonore (1690-1760), Abbess of Saint-Antoine-lez-Paris. 

2. Louis Henri, Due de Bourbon, Prince de Conde (1692-1740). 

3. Louise Elisabeth, Mile, de Bourbon (1693-1775). 

4. Louise Anne, Mile, de Charolais (1697-1741). 

5. Marie Anne, Mile, de Clermont (1697-1741). 

6. Charles, Comte de Charolais (1700-1760). 

7. Henriette Louise Marie Fran9oise Gabrielle, Mile, de Vermandois (born 
in 1703). 

8. Elisabeth Alexandre, Mile, de Sens (1705-1765). 

9. Louis, Comte de Clermont (1709-1771). 



short and rather thick-set, Louis Henri de Bourbon-Conde was tall 
and thin, with a long face and prominent cheek-bones. At this 
period, however, he was not considered an ill-looking young 
man, but two years later [he had the misfortune to meet with an 
accident which disfigured him. 

In the winter of 1712 that fatal winter which witnessed the 
successive deaths of the charming Duchesse de Bourgogne, 
her husband, and their eldest son, the little Due de Bretagne 
he took part in a battue at Marly with the Dauphin and that 
prince's younger brother, the Due de Berry. Monsieur le Due 
and the Due de Berry were standing facing one another, on 
opposite sides of a frozen pool. The latter fired at a bird, which 
was flying very low, and missed it ; and part of the charge, 
rebounding from the ice, struck Monsieur le Due in the left eye, 
the sight of which was destroyed. 

The young prince succeeded to his father's post of Grand 
Master of the King's Household, to his government of 
Burgundy, and to the command of the cavalry and infantry 
regiments of Conde. In 1711 he took part in the Flemish cam- 
paign under Villars, and in the assault on Hordain showed that 
he had inherited the courage of his race. In the following year, 
he was in nominal command of the cavalry of the Army of 
Flanders, and assisted at the sieges of Douai, Le Quesnoy, and 
Bouchain ; while in 1713 he followed Villars to the Rhine, was 
present at the sieges of Landau and Freiburg, and was made 
marshal de camp. 

In his will, Louis XIV. had named the Due de Bourbon a 
member of the Council of Regency, as soon as he should reach 
the age of twenty-four ; but on the death of le Grand Monarque, 
his wishes were immediately set aside, and the Regent, the 
Due d'Orleans, proceeded to appoint the Council himself, with 
Monsieur le Due as its president. Apart, however, from the 
share he took in the campaign against the legitimated sons of 
the late King, the Due du Maine and the Comte de Toulouse, 
with the object of reducing them to the rank of simple peers of 
the realm, the prince appears to have occupied himself very 
little with politics during the first years of the Regency, and 


confined his activities to the financial speculations in which half 
Paris was then engaging. With so much ardour, indeed, did he 
espouse the cause of the Scotch adventurer Law that he was 
accused of being one of the authors of the "System" which 
involved the country in such disaster. Any way, he had the 
courage to defend the fallen idol to the very last, and when Law, 
his life being no longer safe in Paris, made his escape to Flanders, 
it was one of the Due de Bourbon's carriages which conveyed him 
to the frontier. 

Very wealthy before the " System," his great fortune was 
materially increased by successful speculation. In 1720 it was 
computed at not less than sixty million livres. 

The character of the prince is very diversely estimated by 
his contemporaries. Some writers, such as Marais, Barbier, 
and Duclos, judge him severely, and describe him as hasty in 
temper, brusque in his manners, debauched, dishonourable, 
rapacious, and entirely destitute of political capacity. Others, 
like Saint-Simon and the Dowager-Duchess d'Orleans, recognize 
in him a certain merit. The former acknowledges that, with 
all his faults, he had " an indomitable obstinancy, an inflexible 
firmness ; " while the mother of the Regent, whose opinions at 
least possess the advantage of being consistently sincere, writes 
of him in 1719 : 

"Monsieur le Due has many good qualities and many friends. 
He is polished and knows how to behave well, but his attain- 
ments are not very extensive. Nor is he better informed, but 
there is a loftiness and a nobility in his character, and he knows 
how to uphold his rank." 

Louis Henri de Bourbon-Conde, in fact, was neither the 
odious nor the incapable person whom certain historians have 
depicted. His courage was indisputable ; if he was rapacious, 
he was also generous and open-handed ; if he was a bad enemy, 
he was also a faithful friend ; he possessed cultured tastes, and 
beneath his love of pleasure and his apparent indifference to 
public affairs he concealed qualities which only required to be 
stimulated into activity to make of him, if not a statesman, at 
least a formidable party-leader. 


In the summer of 1713, Monsieur le Due was married to his 
cousin, Marie Anne de Bourbon-Conti, at the same time as his 
second sister, Mile, de Bourbon, became the wife of the young 
Prince de Conti. This double marriage, which was regarded 
with more or less repugnance by all four of the parties concerned, 
affords a curious illustration of the despotism exercised by 
Louis XIV. over the members of the Royal House. 

The death of Monsieur le Prince^ in 1709, had been followed 
by a most acrimonious lawsuit over his will between the Condes 
and Contis, which, suspended for a while by the sudden demise 
of his successor, had been resumed with redoubled bitterness 
as soon as decency permitted. Nothing was further from the 
thoughts of the Contis than an alliance with their detested 
cousins, and, in point of fact, secret negotiations had been for 
some time in progress between them and the Orleans family for 
the marriage of the Prince de Conti to Mile, de Chartres, second 
daughter of the future Regent 

Now, Madame la Princesse, a pious and gentle soul, had been 
terribly distressed by this family quarrel, and had made several 
futile efforts to induce the litigants to come to an arrangement. 
By some means, she got wind of the matrimonial negotiations 
just mentioned, which opened her eyes to a very natural means 
of accommodation which had not yet occurred to her, namely, a 
double marriage between her grandchildren. Aware that she 
herself would never be able to bring this about, she determined to 
appeal to Louis XIV., who had also endeavoured to reconcilejthe 
parties, and had been more than once on the point of employing 
his authority to put a stop to proceedings so prejudicial to the 
dignity of the Royal House, and who, she knew, would be the 
more ready to listen to her, since he could hardly fail to be 
extremely irritated to learn, from an outside source, of the 
projected marriage of the Prince de Conti and a daughter of 
the Due d'Orleans. 

She had not miscalculated. The King at once expressed 
his warm approval of her proposal, and lost no time in sending 
for Madame la Duchesse, whom he informed of his wishes. That 
lady began to remonstrate vigorously, but his Majesty " spoke 


to her, not as a father, but as a master who intends to be obeyed 
without hesitation," and she reluctantly yielded. Next came the 
turn of the Princesse de Conti, who offered the same stubborn 
resistance, and only capitulated when the King, losing all 
patience, informed her that, if she refused to give her consent, 
he would cause the double marriage to be celebrated without it. 
As for the parties most nearly concerned, his Majesty did not 
even trouble to go through the form of consulting them, and on 
9 July the marriages were celebrated, in the chapel at Versailles, 
by the Cardinal de Rohan. 

The new Duchesse de Bourbon, who was nearly five years 
older than her husband, was an extremely pretty young woman, 
and " possessed of much intelligence, amiability, and charm of 
manner." l Neither the attractions of her mind nor of her person, 
however, appear to have made any impression upon Monsieur le 
Due, for which he was not perhaps wholly to blame, having 
regard to the peculiar circumstances in which the marriage had 
taken place, besides which it would seem that his wife made very 
little attempt to understand him. Any way, he never enter- 
tained for her the smallest affection, and the tie which bound 
them was never more than a nominal one. 

Such being the relations between Monsieur le Due and his 
consort, it was but natural that the former should have become 
the quarry of all the dames galantes of the time. Madame de 
Sabran, one time mistress of the Regent, Madame de Zurlauben, 
Madame de Polignac, Madame de Nesle, mother of the too- 
celebrated sisters who were to succeed one another in the 
affections of Louis XV., and other facile beauties seem to have 
dipped their pretty fingers freely into his coffers ; but none of 
these liaisons was of long duration, and it was not until the 
prince was approaching his thirtieth year that he found a woman 
capable of fixing his affections. 

In the closing years of the reign of Louis XIV. there lived in 
a magnificent h6tel at the corner of the Rues de Clery and 
Poissoniere a family of the name of Berthelot de Pleneuf. The 

1 Saint-Simon. 


father of the family, tienne Berthelot de Pldneuf, was a wealthy 
Government official and army-contractor, a younger son of 
Francois Berthelot, a person of comparatively humble origin, 
who had amassed an enormous fortune, partly by judicious 
land-speculation in Canada, where he owned "estates of the 
value of a province," which the King had transformed for him 
into the county of Saint-Laurent, and partly as a revenue- 
farmer and commissary. Old Berthelot had employed a con- 
siderable portion of his wealth in the purchase of lucrative 
Government posts and estates in France, which he distributed 
among his sons, to tienne's share falling the office of Director- 
General of the Powders and Saltpetres of France and the 
seigneurie of Plneuf, which entitled him to style himself the 
seigneur de Plneuf. 

In 1696, Pldneuf, who was then about thirty-five, had 
married, en secondes noces, a Mile. Agnes Riault d'Ouilly, a 
daughter of a rich bourgeois family, which, like his own, had 
been recently ennobled. The second Madame de P16neuf, who, 
it may be mentioned, was nearly twenty years her husband's 
junior, had been one of the prettiest girls in Paris, and in due 
course she became one of its most beautiful aud fascinating 
women. " Tall, perfectly shaped, with an extremely agreeable 
countenance, intelligence, grace, tact, and savoir-vivre" l she 
triumphed like a queen, and as Plneuf, proud of her success, 
denied her nothing, the salons in the Rue de Clery soon became 
the rendezvous of all fashionable Paris. 

If in beauty and intelligence Madame de Pleneuf left little to 
be desired, the same, unfortunately, could not be said for her 
reputation. The prolonged absences of her husband with the 
army provided her with abundant opportunities for receiving the 
homage of her numerous admirers, and she took advantage of 
them so freely that she earned for herself the name of the 
Messalina of her time. To no lady in Paris did gossip ascribe 
so many lovers, and, in most cases, it is to be feared, with only 
too much justification. There was a Lorraine prince, the Prince 
Charles d'Armagnac ; the Cardinal de Rohan ; the Dues de 

1 Saint-Simon. 


Duras and de la Valliere ; the versatile Marquis de Dangeau, 
author of the famous " Journal " ; Canon Destouches, father of 
Nericault-Destouches, the diplomatist and playwright ; young 
La Baume, son of the Marechal de Tallard ; the Marquis de 
Cany, son of the War Minister Chamillard ; the dashing Comte 
de Gace, who, in February, 1716, fought the famous midnight 
duel with the Due de Richelieu in the middle of the Rue Saint- 
Thomas-du Louvre. And the list might be considerably extended. 

But if Madame de Pleneuf were an immoral, she was also a 
very clever woman, and displayed really remarkable address in 
managing her crowd of soupirants and avoiding anything ap- 
proaching a scandal. " Enamoured of herself to the last degree," 
writes Saint-Simon, " she desired that others should be so, but it 
was necessary to obtain permission. She knew how to pick and 
choose among her admirers, and so well did she understand how 
to establish her empire that complete happiness never exceeded, 
in appearance, the bounds of respect and propriety ; and there 
was not one of the chosen band who dared to show either jealousy 
or mortification. Each one hoped for his turn, and, while 
waiting, the choice more than suspected was respected by all in 
perfect silence, without the least altercation amongst them. It 
is astonishing how this conduct gained her friends of im- 
portance, who always remained attached to her, without there 
being any question of anything more than friendship, and whom 
she found, in case of need, the most eager to serve her in her 
affairs. She was at this time in the best and the most 
aristocratic society, as much as the wife of Pleneuf was able to 
be ; and there she has remained since, among all the vicissitudes 
which she has experienced." 

Saint-Simon does not exaggerate. Madame de Pleneuf 
never encountered among her admirers any resistance to the 
regulations which she imposed upon them. All submitted to 
them with a good grace; all passed without protest from the 
rank of candidates for her favour to that of lover, and from 
that of lover to that of friend, and of friends, in some instances, 
ready to make considerable sacrifices for her sake. 

Among several children, Madame de Pleneuf had a daughter, 


born in 1698, some two years after the marriage of her parents, 
to whom she had given her own name of Agnes. Beautiful as 
was the mother, the daughter promised to be more beautiful 
still, and with her physical perfections she combined vivacity, 
intelligence, and the most charming manners. "A figure 
supple and above the middle height, the air of a nymph, a 
delicate face, pretty cheeks, a well-formed nose, blonde hair, 
eyes a trifle small, but bright and expressive ; in a word, a 
physiognomy refined and distinguished, and a voice as charming 
as her face." Such is the description given of her, when she 
was fifteen, by the President Henault, and his praises are echoed 
by practically all contemporary writers. Saint-Simon declares 
that she was " beautiful, well-made, more charming by reason of 
those indescribable things which captivate, and with much intelli- 
gence carefully cultivated " ; Marais admits that there was " much 
that was agreeable in her countenance, in her mind, and in 
all her manners" ; d'Argenson proclaims her "lafleur despois " ; 
while in the eyes of Duclos, she " possessed more than beauty ,'' 
and " everything about her was seductive." 

Now, while Agnes remained a child, Madame de Pleneuf 
would appear to have been quite a devoted mother, and " it was 
the passion and occupation of her life to bring her up well." 
But, as the little girl advanced towards womanhood, and gained 
every day what she herself was losing in attractions, with the 
result that the homage of some of the gallants who frequented 
the Hotel de Pleneuf began to be transferred from the mother 
to the daughter, the affection which she had once entertained 
for her gradually changed to dislike, and eventually to the 
bitterest jealousy and hatred. " In proportion as the daughter 
pleased by a hundred attractions," writes Saint-Simon, "she 
displeased her mother. Madame de Pleneuf could not endure 
the sight of homage addressed to others than herself at her own 
house. The advantages of youth irritated her. Her daughter, 
whom she was unable to prevent from perceiving it, suffered 
her dependence, endured her murmurs, supported the constraints 
imposed upon her, but she began to be annoyed by them. 
Pleasantries concerning the jealousy of her mother escaped 


her, which were reported to Madame de P16neuf. The latter 
felt the ridicule of them. She flew into a passion. The girl 
retorted, and Pleneuf, more prudent than she was, dreading a 
scandal which might prejudice the establishment of his daughter 
in life, decided to provide her with a husband." 

It was certainly high time to separate mother and daughter, 
for the enmity between them was increasing every day, and 
at the beginning of 1713 an incident occurred which brought 
matters to a crisis and made it impossible for them to remain 
any longer under the same roof. 

Among the admirers of Madame de Pleneuf was a certain 
Comte d'Angennes. Young, handsome, and of charming 
manners, he had not been permitted to sigh in vain ; indeed, 
the lady appears to have conceived for him a most violent 
passion. In a surprisingly short time, however, she perceived 
that the ardour of her new lover was beginning to cool, for, 
though frequenting the house as assiduously as ever, he no 
longer sought opportunities of being alone with his hostess. 
Madame de Pleneuf, her suspicions aroused, watched him 
closely, and more than once detected him talking in low tones 
to Agnes, with an expression on his face which there was no 

Thenceforth the jealous woman's hatred of her too attractive 
daughter knew no bounds. No longer did she trouble to dis- 
simulate her feelings from her friends, but actually incited the 
most devoted of them to imitate the attitude she adopted 
towards the girl, with the result that poor Agnes's life became 
almost unendurable. 

Unendurable, too, was the sight of her to her unnatural 
mother, and she importuned her husband until he consented 
that the girl should leave the house and be placed in a convent, 
while awaiting the appearance on the scene of an eligible 
suitor. Several gentlemen who answered more or less to this 
description speedily presented themselves, and, after some 
hesitation, M. de Pleneuf decided in favour of the Marquis de 

The marquis was twenty-five years older than Agnes and, 


though he was the possessor of large estates, they were either 
so unproductive or so heavily mortgaged that they brought 
him in next to nothing. But he was a member of a very 
ancient House, connected with several of the most illustrious 
families in France, was governor of Bourbon-Lancy, colonel 
of the cavalry regiment which bore his name, held the rank 
of brigadier-general in the Army, and, finally, was one of the 
godfathers of the heir to the throne. 

This last honour, which he owed to his good fortune in 
happening to be with his aunt the Duchesse de Ventadour, 
gouvernante to the Due d'Anjou, in Louis XIV. 's cabinet, at 
the moment when the infant prince was brought thither for 
his Majesty's inspection, seems to have had great weight with 
M. de Pleneuf, who was intoxicated with the idea of an alliance 
with the godfather of his future King. As for the marquis, 
it is probable that M. de Pleneuf s money-bags constituted 
a far more potent attraction for him than the beaux yeux of 
his lovely daughter. He was not only poor, but ambitious, and, 
now that the approach of peace threatened to put an end to 
his hopes of military distinction, he had decided to embark 
upon a diplomatic career, and aspired to an embassy, for which, 
of course, the possession of a long purse was an indispensable 

The preliminaries were soon concluded, and on 27 December, 
1713, Agnes Berthelot de Pleneuf became the Marquise de Prie. 
Taken to Versailles by the Duchesse de Ventadour, to be 
presented to Louis XIV., she astonished all the Court by her 
dazzling beauty and her precocious airs of a woman of the 
world ; and even those who had been inclined to condemn M. de 
Prie for having contracted a mesalliance were obliged to admit 
that he had married a wife of whom any man might be proud. 
Almost immediately after] his marriage, the marquis was nomi- 
nated Ambassador to the King of Sardinia, and set out for 
Turin, whither, after a short interval, his wife followed him. 

At Turin Madame de Prie remained five years. For the 
first two or three, during which a little daughter was born to 
her, everything went smoothly. Her husband was kind and 


attentive, and, if she felt for him no affection and some con- 
tempt for he was a pompous and self-opinionated person, with 
abilities as slender as his ambitions were lofty she, at least, 
tolerated him ; while, as the Ambassadress of the greatest King 
in the world, and one of the most beautiful women in the 
Piedmontese capital, she was the object of universal homage, 
and no social gathering was deemed complete which she did 
not grace with her presence. But towards the end of 1716 an 
event occurred which was to effect a great change in the fortunes 
of the Pries. 

For some time past a very ugly cloud had been slowly 
gathering over the head of M. de Pleneuf. At this period, 
and, indeed, until a very much later date, most gentlemen con- 
nected with the commissariat department of the Army were but 
indifferently honest ; but long impunity had rendered Pleneuf 
unusually audacious, and so outrageously did he rob the Army 
of Italy, of which he had acted as chief commissary, that in 
1706 Louis XIV. ordered an inquiry to be instituted. 

Matters would probably have gone hardly with Pleneuf, if 
he had not had the good fortune to possess powerful protectors. 
Thanks to their efforts, not only were the charges against him 
not pressed, but, a little while afterwards, he was actually 
appointed chief clerk at the War Office. 

Nevertheless, his peculations, and those of his colleagues, 
were not forgotten, and in 1714 the Government decided upon 
a new revision of the accounts of the Army of Italy. This 
investigation, temporarily interrupted by the last illness and 
death of Louis XIV., was resumed some months later, when 
Philippe d'Orleans, eager to court popularity, determined to 
make the revenue-farmers and commissaries disgorge their ill- 
gotten gains ; and Pleneuf was the first to be summoned before 
the Court instituted for that purpose. This time, there was no 
one to intervene in his favour, and, warned that his arrest was 
imminent, he fled to Switzerland, and thence made his way to 
his daughter at Turin. 

In saving his person, however, he had not succeeded in 
saving his property; and his hdtel in Paris and his country-estates 


were sequestrated until such time as he should make restitu- 
tion of the immense sums of which he had defrauded the State. 

The disgrace and bankruptcy of Pleneuf was a terrible blow 
to the de Pries. They might have stomached the loss of the old 
gentleman's reputation, for the offence of which he had been 
guilty was of such common occurrence in those days as to be 
regarded with a very lenient eye, and, indeed, he appears to 
have received quite a warm welcome at the Court of Turin ; 
but the loss of his money was another matter altogether. 

With the laudable desire of upholding the honour of France, 
both the Ambassador and his wife had incurred heavy expendi- 
ture during their residence in Italy ; de Prie's small fortune was 
entirely exhausted, and very little was left of Agnes's dowry. 
It was to the purse of Pleneuf that they had been looking to 
replenish their empty coffers, and here he was quartered upon 
them, with a healthy appetite and extravagant tastes, but with- 
out a crown in his pocket In short, the ambassadorial manage 
found itself reduced to the direst extremities, and it was only 
by pawning his plate and borrowing money at usurious interest 
that the unfortunate representative of the might and majesty of 
France was able to continue at his post. 

Towards the end of the year 1718, matters had reached such 
a pass that no hope of escaping from his difficulties remained to 
him save by the intervention of his Government. Again and 
again he had appealed to Torcy, the Minister for Foreign 
Affairs, for assistance ; but the answer was always the same : 
the Royal Treasury was empty ; it was impossible at present 
even to pay his Excellency's salary, much less to discharge his 

In despair, the Ambassador determined to send his wife to 
Paris to plead their cause with the Government, and at the 
beginning of December Madame de Prie set out for France. 

The young woman who returned to Paris was a very different 
person from the girl who had quitted it five years before. Not 
only had she gained in outward attractions, but she had gained 
enormously in worldly knowledge. She had learned the ways 
of Courts, and had learned them at one where falsehood and 


dissimulation were considered the first essentials of every good 
politician. She had learned some of the subtleties of diplomacy, 
for the Marquis de Prie, who had been no match for Victor 
Amadeus and his Ministers, had been only too thankful to avail 
himself of the advice and assistance of his clever wife and father- 
in-law ; indeed, for some months past it was they who had con- 
ducted the real work of the embassy. She had learned too to 
understand the power of her beauty, for, though there would 
appear to be no reason to believe that she had ever surrendered 
to love, she had certainly known how to inspire it, and a prince 
of the Royal House of Savoy the Prince di Carignano the 
Baron Ferron, Prime Minister of Victor Amadeus, the Chevalier 
de Lozilieres, first secretary to the embassy, and the Marquis 
d'Alincourt, son of the Marechal de Villeroy, who stayed for 
some time in Turin on his return from a campaign against 
the Turks, had been all devoted admirers. " But, above all," 
observes her admiring biographer, M. Thirion, " she had learned 
how to toil, to suffer, to defend herself against the ills of life, to 
struggle and to combat, in order to satisfy the exigencies of an 
uncertain hand-to-mouth existence, in such fashion that, beneath 
the frail envelope of this adorable young body, there beat an 
almost virile heart, there resided a soul matured before its time, 
disciplined and for ever superior to cowardly weaknesses." l 

And it was a very different Paris to which she returned. 
The austere and bigoted regime of Louis XIV. and Madame de 
Maintenon, where even the most profligate and reckless had 
been constrained to some semblance of decorum, was no more, 
and the pent-up impatience of a corrupt society was finding 
relief in a veritable saturnalia of sensuality. Vice, which for 
so many years had scarcely dared to rear its head, now stalked 
abroad, naked and unashamed ; virtue, and even ordinary 
decency, was mocked at and derided. The Regent himself set 
the tone in moral depravity, and his example, was followed by 
the Princes and Princesses of the Blood, by the bulk of the 
nobility and by a considerable proportion of the wealthy middle- 

1 "^Madame de Prie (1698-1727)," Paris, 1905. 


"The disorderly and foolish life in Paris," writes the old 
Duchesse d'Orleans, " becomes every day more detestable and 
more horrible. Every time it thunders I tremble for this town." 1 

To send a beautiful and unprotected young woman into the 
midst of so licentious a Court was, to say the least of it, a very 
injudicious action on de Prie's part, and some contemporary 
writers are of opinion that it was his deliberate intention to 
launch her upon some gallant adventure. In this, as we shall 
presently see, they have probably done him an injustice ; but, 
however that may be, nothing in the conduct of his wife during 
the first months after her arrival in Paris indicates that she had 
the least idea of speculating in her charms. 

Since it was, of course, out of the question for her to 
demand the hospitality of her detestable mother, she installed 
herself with her little daughter in a small house close to the 
Convent of La Conception, belonging to one of her aunts, 
Madame de S6chelles, to whom she paid an annual rent of 
500 livres, for the use of a portion of it. She lived very quietly, 
for she was almost entirely without resources, and seldom went 
into Society, though, in accordance with her husband's instruc- 
tions, she solicited audiences of the Regent, the Abbe Dubois, 
Torcy, and, indeed, every one who might be able to be of 
assistance to the impecunious Ambassador. 

The interviews which took place between her detested 
daughter and these distinguished persons did not escape 
Madame de Pleneuf, and, thanks to the malevolent activity of 
her and her friends, a rumour soon began to spread that the 
young Ambassadress, whose beauty never failed to cause a 
sensation wherever she appeared, was employing her charms to 
mend her broken fortunes. She was accused of prostituting 
herself to the Marechal de la Feuillade, to d'Alincourt and to 
Torcy, and of having made an attempt to subjugate the heart of 
the Regent, who, it was added, had repulsed her, either because 
she had not pleased him, or because he regarded her as too 
dangerous a mistress. 

1 " Correspondance complete de Madame, duchesse d'Orleans," Letter of 
27 Septembre, 1720. 



There seems to have been no truth whatever in these allega- 
tions. La Feuillade was in very bad health ; d'Alincourt on 
the eve of espousing a wealthy heiress, and Torcy approaching 
his sixtieth year. As for the Regent, well, the post of chief 
sultana to his Highness was not just then vacant, being occupied 
by Madame de Parabere ; and Madame de Prie was certainly not 
the kind of woman either to risk the humiliation of a rebuff or 
to be content with a subordinate position. Moreover, no trust- 
worthy contemporary chronicler has charged the lady with any 
such ambition as gossip ascribed to her. 

If, however, the Regent did not fall in love with Madame 
de Prie, she seems to have made a very favourable impression 
upon him, and she was several times invited to assist at those 
too-celebrated petits soupers at which the ruler of France was 
accustomed to seek relaxation from the cares of State. However, 
such orgies were but little to her taste, and when she had at 
length succeeded in obtaining from him a promise that her 
husband's debts at Turin should be settled, or that he should be 
permitted to resign his post, she ceased to appear at the Palais- 

Meanwhile, the favour with which Madame de Prie was 
regarded in high places had begun to alarm Madame de Pleneuf 
and her coterie. Since her daughter's return to Paris that 
amiable lady had not ceased to aim at her every kind of shaft 
that hatred and malice could forge and to incite her docile 
admirers to do the same. When, however, they saw her a 
welcome guest at the Palais-Royal, they began to ask themselves 
if they had not carried their hostility a little too far ; and, though 
Madame de Pleneuf herself professed to be implacable, some of 
her friends began to make overtures to her daughter, with a view 
to bringing about a reconciliation. Nothing, however, came of 
these negotiations, for, before they had proceeded very far, an 
event occurred which was to fan the dying embers of the old feud 
into the flame of a new and interminable war. 


Origin of the liaison between Monsieur leDuc and Madame de Prie con- 
sidered Extraordinary ascendency which the latter acquires over her lover 
For a while, the favourite leads a life of pleasure, but is soon obliged to 
give her attention to politics Exasperation of Madame de Pldneuf s coterie 
against her Insecurity of Monsieur le Due's position The Orleans faction 
Intrigues of the War Minister Le Blanc and the Belle-Isles Hatred of 
Madame de Prie for Le Blanc She resolves to crush the common enemies 
of herself and Monsieur le Due Her skilful conduct Murder of Sandrier 
de Mitry, chief cashier of La Jonchere, treasurer of the Emergency War 
Fund Sinister suspicions concerning La Jonchere and Le Blanc Madame 
de Prie determines to get to the bottom of the mystery Her alliance with 
the Paris brothers against the War Minister Dubois persuades the Regent 
to withdraw his protection from Le Blanc Arrest of La Jonchere and 
examination of his accounts Disgrace and exile of Le Blanc The death 
of Dubois puts a stop to the proceedings Death of Philippe d'Orldans 
Monsieur le Due becomes Prime Minister. 

ONE night, in the autumn of 1719, so the story goes, the 
Due de Bourbon attended a ball at the Opera, where 
his attention was attracted by two masked ladies, who 
remained inseparable throughout the evening. One of them in 
particular piqued his curiosity, as much as by her liveliness and 
wit, as by the perfection of her shape and the grace of her 
movements. He entreated her to unmask, but was met by a 
refusal, and she and her companion took their departure, laughing 
merrily at his mortification. At the next Opera-ball, the two 
ladies appeared in the same costume. Monsieur le Due, who 
was again present, hastened to join them, but, though, on this 
occasion, he succeeded in ascertaining that the elder was a 
Madame Auxy, he was unable to discover the identity of the 
one who most interested him, for nothing could persuade her 
to unmask. On leaving him, however, she hinted that, if he 
cared to attend the next ball, he might find her less obdurate. 



The prince was faithful to the rendezvous, but the fair 
inconnue seemed disinclined to fulfil her promise ; and it was only 
after many refusals and many protestations that she at length 
consented to remove her mask, and to reveal the adorable features 
of Madame de Prie, at sight of which Monsieur le Due in- 
continently succumbed. 

Such is the version of the affair which has found favour with 
the majority of historians. It is doubtful, however, if it is the 
correct one, and, any way, it is strangely inconsistent with the 
account given by Caylus no friend, by the way, of Madame de 
Prie of the repulsion with which the first solicitations of 
Monsieur le Due inspired the object of his desires : 

" However ambitious Madame de Prie may have been, when 
she saw herself on the point of surrendering to a man whose face 
was extremely repulsive, although he was rather well-made, she 
experienced a frightful repugnance, and was a hundred times 
ready to renounce her project." 

A more plausible explanation of the origin of this passion, 
which, owing to its consequences, belongs to history, is that 
Madame de Prie's aunt, Madame de Sechelles, who was on 
friendly terms with Marie Anne de Bourbon-Conti, the first wife 
of Monsieur le Due, and a frequent visitor at the H6tel de Conde, 
brought her niece there ; that Monsieur le Due saw her and fell 
desperately in love with her, and that certain partisans of the 
House of Cond, who were anxious to find some intelligent 
woman capable of guiding the prince amidst the bewildering 
chaos of passions and intrigues in which he found himself, and of 
awakening in him those ambitions which they themselves had 
vainly endeavoured to arouse, persuaded her, weary as she was 
of the trials and humiliations of poverty and eager once again to 
possess the good things of life, to become his mistress. 

What, however, is incontestable, is the completeness of her 
triumph. From the first hour until the time, six years later, when 
circumstances over which neither of them had any control came 
to force them apart, she dominated Monsieur le Due entirely, and 
he adored her with an intensity of devotion of which no one had 
believed him capable. The Sabrans, the Nesles, the Polignacs 


and the rest were as entirely forgotten as if they had never 
existed ; never was there so much as a whisper of a rival in his 
affections. He consecrated himself to her body and soul. 

Nor is this a matter for surprise, since Madame de Prie was 
no ordinary mistress. Not only did she possess in a superlative 
degree all that could charm the senses, but she had intelligence, 
culture, and exquisite tact, and, she understood to perfection 
the art of pleasing. " She amused him, she distracted him, she 
showed a profound respect for his decisions, which flattered 
him in confirming him in the idea that he acted always on his 
own initiative. She never gave him advice except after being 
asked for it, and in subordinating it, in appearance, to the 
superior intelligence of her lover, although it was frequently her 
counsel which prevailed." l Thus, she insinuated herself into 
the mind and heart of the prince and " disposed of him as a 
slave." 2 Never did he dream of rebelling against his fetters, 
since he was barely conscious of them. 

For a while, Madame de Prie gave herself up to the enjoy- 
ment of all the luxury and splendour with which her princely 
lover hastened to surround her with the zest which only a 
pretty young woman can feel who, after once being in a position 
to indulge all her caprices, has for several years been com- 
pelled to deny herself even the necessaries or what the 
feminine mind considers the necessaries of existence. She 
passed long delightful hours in the shops of fashionable 
couturiers and made extensive purchases, which, let us hope, 
Monsieur le Due paid for in hard cash, and not in the notes of 
his protege Law's unfortunate bank. She visited the ateliers of 
the artists, of whom she had in former days been a generous 
patron, and commissioned a portrait of herself from Van Loo, 
and another from Rosalba, whom she had patronised at Turin, 
and who had just completed a pastel of Madame de Parabere. 
Arrayed in ravishing toilettes and blazing with diamonds, she 
did the honours of the H6tel de Cond6, of Chantilly and of 
Saint-Maur, for, very opportunely for her, the unloved wife of 

1 H. Thirion, "Madame de Prie." 

* Henri Martin, " Histoire de France jusqu'en 1789." 


Monsieur le Due had, after a long and painful illness, recently 
departed to another world, leaving the field quite free for the 
sultana. And she profoundly troubled the salons by launching 
an entirely novel method of arranging the hair, which became 
her d merveille, but caused serious inconvenience to some of the 
fashionable dames who felt constrained to adopt it. 

But, after some weeks, she was obliged to give her mind to 
more serious matters. The " elevation " of a petite bourgeoise, 
daughter of a fraudulent financier and of a woman universally 
depised, to be the favourite of a prince who stood so near the 
throne and might even one day ascend it, had not taken 
place without exciting the most rancorous jealousy and hatred. 
Chansons, venomous satires, slanders, calumnies, rained upon 
her, until, if she had been a more sensitive woman, she might 
well have been driven to the verge of despair. She was 
charged with having led a life of debauchery from her earliest 
youth ; of having bewitched Monsieur le Due by initiating him 
into vices imported by her from Italy and hitherto unknown 
in France ; of having ruined her husband by her scandalous 
extravagance ; of having treated an unselfish and devoted 
mother with the most outrageous cruelty and ingratitude. She 
learned that in Madame de Ple"neuf s circle it was predicted that 
her triumph would be of very brief duration ; that they would 
soon succeed in disgusting Monsieur le Due with his choice, 
and that when she had fallen from her high estate and had 
been abandoned by the prince, they would make her bitterly 
repent of her victory. 

She learned, too, that the position of Monsieur le Due was 
far from secure, and that he had many powerful enemies, who 
were continually intriguing against him and who would not 
scruple to employ every possible means to reduce him to political 
impotence. This, however, requires a word of explanation. 

For some years past the bitterest antipathy had existed 
between the Houses of Orleans and Conde. This feud had 
its origin in the aversion which the two daughters of Louis 
XIV. and Madame de Montespan had always entertained for 
each other, and which, in their younger days, had so much 


disturbed the harmony of the royal circle that the King was at 
length obliged to threaten them with banishment from the 
Court if they could not live peaceably together. The hatred 
between the two sisters had been communicated to their sons, 
the Due de Chartres and Monsieur le Due, and intensified by 
the lawsuit over the will of the late Monsieur le Prince and by 
the prominence taken by Monsieur le Due in the campaign 
against the legitimated princes, whose cause the Duchesse 
d'Orleans had espoused with the most passionate enthusiasm. 

The Regent did not share the antipathy of his wife and son 
to the Condes ; indeed, he regarded the proceedings of them 
and the faction which they had gathered about them with the 
gravest suspicion, which is hardly surprising, having regard to 
the ambitions with which they were generally credited. These 
included his own deposition and the substitution of the 
Duchesse d'Orleans as Regent, the banishment of Monsieur le 
Due and the Condes, the re-establishment of the legitimated 
princes in their titles and dignities, the constitution of a new 
Ministry, and a rapprocJiement with Spain. 

The party was numerically powerful, including as it did a 
number of the proteges of the House of Orleans, and many 
discontented and ambitious persons. It also comprised some 
very distinguished names: the Due and Duchesse du Maine, 
the Comte de Toulouse, the Prince de Conde, the Rohans, the 
Due de Montemart, and the Mare"chaux de Villeroy, Berwick 
and Tallard. But its most active and formidable members 
were three men of middle-class origin : the Secretary of State 
for War, Le Blanc, the Comte, afterwards the Marshal de 
Belle-Isle, and his younger brother, the Chevalier de Belle-Isle. 

Claude Le Blanc was the son of Louis Le Blanc, who had 
been at one time intendant of Normandy; his mother was 
a sister of the Marshal de Bezons. Born in 1669, he practised 
for some years at the Bar, but in 1704 was appointed intendant 
of Auvergne. He was an exceedingly able man, "full of 
intelligence, capacity and resource," * and in the intendancy of 
Flanders, to which he was transferred towards the close of the 

1 Saint-Simon. 




War of the Austrian Succession, he rendered such admirable 
service that Louis XIV. summoned him to Court in order that 
he might thank him personally. 

On the old King's death, the functions of Secretary of State 
for War were suppressed and replaced by a council, of which 
Le Blanc was a member, but, after trying this experiment for 
two years, the Regent decided to revert to the old order of 
things, and the office was conferred upon the ex-intendant. 

Although Le Blanc possessed few of the qualities of a 
Louvois, and during the war with Spain which followed the 
Cellamare conspiracy was guilty of more than one grave error, 
he was, on the whole, far from an incapable Minister, and the 
Army owed to him several useful reforms, while he always 
enjoyed great popularity with the troops. But, on the other 
hand, he was greedy, ambitious, unscrupulous, and an incor- 
rigible intriguer, with whom no consideration of gratitude or 
honour would be permitted to weigh for a moment. 

In the Comte de Belle-Isle, who, a quarter of a century later, 
during the War of the Austrian Succession, was to earn un- 
dying renown by his gallant defence of Prague and the masterly 
manner in which he subsequently conducted the retreat of the 
garrison to Eger, through the midst of an enemy's country and 
in the depth of winter, he possessed a most valuable ally. 

Although Belle-Isle was the grandson of the Surintendant 
Fouquet, whose ill-gotten wealth had brought upon him so 
terrible a punishment, he had, nevertheless, entered the service 
of Louis XIV. and risen to the rank of brigadier-general He 
accompanied Villars to the negotiations of Rastadt, and, after 
the conclusion of peace, was made governor of Huningue. 
Appointed marechal de camp on the outbreak of the war 
between France and Spain, he contributed to the capture of 
Fontarabia and San Sebastian, and, without having done any- 
thing very notable, contrived, thanks to the adroit manner in 
which his friend Le Blanc represented his services, to acquire a 
considerable military reputation and with it a footing at the 
Court, of which he did not fail to profit. Ambitious, enter- 
prising, and persuasive, he succeeded in insinuating himself into 


the favour of the Regent, and soon began to be regarded as a 
very important personage. 

The third member of the triumvirate, the Chevalier de Belle- 
Isle, was a young man of twenty-seven, noted for his dashing 
valour in the field and his innumerable gallantries. His abilities 
were, however, considerable, and his ambition perhaps even 
more excessive than that of his elder brother, whose entire 
confidence he enjoyed. 

Le Blanc and the Belle-Isles, while secretly the protagonists 
of the opposition party, remained, in appearance, devoted 
adherents of Philippe d'Orleans, and this made them doubly 
dangerous. Profiting by the confidence which the Regent 
reposed in them, they had lately attempted a master-stroke, by 
imputing to the Due de Bourbon machinations of their own 
cabal which were on the point of being discovered. They 
accused him of conspiring to supplant the Regent, and so 
cleverly did they manufacture evidence in support of this 
charge that Monsieur le Due had all the difficulty imaginable 
to prove his innocence. Eventually, the Due d'Orleans 
accepted his indignant protestations, but from that moment 
the chief of the House of Conde" began to be regarded by the 
public as a possible rival of his Royal Highness. 

Now, by a singular coincidence, the same three men who 
had so nearly succeeded in bringing about the disgrace of 
Monsieur le Due were the most devoted of all the friends of 
Madame de Pl&ieuf, and, in consequence, implacable enemies 
of Madame de Prie. Le Blanc had rendered himself par- 
ticularly odious to the Due de Bourbon's mistress. For some 
years past the Minister had been completely infatuated with 
Madame de P16neuf and obedient to her slightest behest, and 
in the miserable days which had followed the discovery of 
Agnes's flirtation with M. d'Angennes he had ably seconded 
her mother in making the girl's life a burden to her. Moreover, 
whether justly or no, she strongly suspected him and the Belle- 
Isles of having been concerned in the tragic end of the 
unfortunate d'Angennes, who, shortly after the episode in 
question, had been found dead in the street, pierced by three 


sword-thrusts, in circumstances which pointed to his being the 
victim of some private vengeance. Again, Le Blanc had, at his 
own special request, been appointed a member of the com- 
mission appointed to investigate the accounts of M. de Pleneuf 
and his fellow-commissaries ; and the animus he had displayed 
against the principal delinquent on this occasion which, it was 
generally believed, had been prompted by the desire to please 
Madame de Pleneuf, who had been for some years past on very 
bad terms with her husband, and, at the same time, to obtain 
greater facilities for enjoying that lady's society had largely 
contributed to his ruin. 

And, finally, he had committed an action which would alone 
have sufficed to assure him the undying hatred of Madame de 

We have mentioned that among the admirers of Madame de 
Prie at Turin was the Marquis d'Alincourt, son of the Marechal 
de Villeroy. Whether there had ever been anything serious 
between them is very doubtful, but, at any rate, the lady had 
been indiscreet enough to write d'Alincourt several letters which 
were capable of such an interpretation. Now, Le Blanc, who 
was a friend of d'Alincourt, knew of the existence of these 
epistles, and, soon after Madame de Prie became the mistress of 
Monsieur le Due, he contrived, by some means, to get possession 
of them, and handed them to Madame de Pleneuf, who carried 
them straight to her daughter's lover. The precious pair 
doubtless hoped thereby to bring about a rupture between the 
prince and his inamorata, but they had sadly underrated the 
strength of the former's infatuation ; and the only result was to 
disgust him with persons who could make war with such 
weapons and to intensify the hatred with which Madame de 
Prie regarded her mother and the Minister for War. 

As soon as Madame de Prie understood the precarious 
situation of Monsieur le Due, and that her mother's friends, Le 
Blanc and the Belle-Isles, were his most redoubtable enemies, 
she recognized that her interests were one with those of her 
lover, and that, by placing him in a position in which he would 
be able to defy them, she would shelter herself from their blows. 


From that moment, the line of action which it behoved her to 
follow was clear, and she determined to devote all her talents 
and all her energies to rallying the prince's partisans around him 
and thwarting the machinations of their common foes. Nor 
did she intend to rest from her labours until she had crushed 
them utterly, and raised Monsieur leDucso high that they would 
be powerless to injure either him or herself. 

But, to accomplish this, it was necessary to begin by free- 
ing herself from certain embarrassments: by appeasing her 
husband's indignation and preventing a scandal, which might 
prejudice her in the eyes of those old-fashioned persons who 
consented to condone immorality only so long as the con- 
ventionalities were duly observed ; by rehabilitating her father, 
whose delinquencies were a continual reproach to her ; and 
by persuading the Conde"s, and, in particular, the Dowager- 
Duchesse de Bourbon to accept the situation and admit her to 
their intimacy, 

All these matters were satisfactorily arranged. M. de Prie, 
who, at the beginning of 1720, had resigned his post at Turin, 
returned to Paris vowing vengeance against his erring wife, and, 
if gossip is to be believed, did actually go so far as to give her 
several blows with his cane. But he was a man of feeble 
character, and, besides, desperately in need of money ; and soon, 
perceiving in which direction his interests lay, he calmed down, 
and eventually took himself off to Languedoc, with the title of 
lieutenant-general of that province, which Monsieur le Due had 
been instrumental in obtaining for him. 

Thanks to the same influence, the Government consented to 
throw a veil over the misdeeds of M. de P16neuf, and to permit 
him to return to Paris, though it refused to restore him his 
property. His daughter, however, hastened to provide for his 
necessities, and soon afterwards secured for him the post of 
secretary to Sennecterre, who had been despatched to England 
to discuss with the British Government the question of the 
restoration of Gibraltar to Spain. 

The question of her relations with the Cond6 family 
presented some difficulty. The Due de Bourbon's two brothers, 


the Comte de Charolais and the Comte de Clermont, were 
disposed to be friendly enough. With the elder, indeed, she 
happened to be already on amicable terms, as some three years 
before, during a visit to Italy, he had stayed for a time at the 
French Embassy at Turin, and had been much pleased by the 
hospitality he had received ; while she had earned the gratitude 
of the Comte de Clermont by assisting him in a love-affair with 
a cousin of her own. But their sisters, with the exception of 
Mile, de Clermont, were less inclined to complaisance, while it 
was plain that Madame la Duchesse looked upon Madame de 
Prie's subjugation of her son with a very jaundiced eye. 
Madame la Duchesse had very little affection for the latter, but 
she aspired to control all his actions, and she strongly resented 
the appearance upon the scene of a rival influence. For some 
time she made no secret of her dislike of Madame de Prie, and 
treated her with the coldest disdain ; and the favourite had 
need of all her suppleness to overcome her hostility. At length, 
however, the princess decided to accept the situation, and, though 
she continued to cherish for her son's mistress a strong aversion, 
their relations were, to all appearances, perfectly cordial. 

Next, the astute young woman proceeded to ingratiate 
herself with the Regent, Cardinal Dubois, and other members 
of the Government. 

By Philippe d'Or!6ans she was, as we have seen, already 
very favourably regarded, and very soon she was admitted to 
the circle of his intimate friends. 

Profiting by the knowledge that Dubois, although he had 
little liking for Monsieur le Due, cared still less for the 
adversaries. of the Condes, she sought eagerly for opportunities 
of rendering herself useful to him, and succeeded so well 
that before long she was able to reckon with confidence upon 
the support of his Eminence, who was becoming more powerful 
every day. 

Nor did she neglect persons who, although they did not 
occupy any important ministerial office, were, nevertheless, 
possessed of influence. Thus, she succeeded in detaching, 
temporarily at least, the Cardinal de Rohan from the opposing 


faction a distinct triumph, since the cardinal was generally 
believed to have been one of the lovers of Madame de Pleneuf 
and in deciding the Marechal de Villars, d'Alincourt, Livry, 
first m&itre d? hotel to the King, her uncle by marriage' the 
Marechal de Matignon, the Due de Richelieu, of gallant 
memory, for whom, when Monsieur le Due became Prime 
Minister, she obtained the Embassy of Vienna, and several 
other nobles who had been hesitating between the two parties, 
to throw in their lot with the Condes. 

She supported Law, too ; and that adventurous financier 
was not ungrateful, and repaid her protection by filling her 
purse so full that she became quite independent of her 
lover's bounty, and was able to maintain a whole company of 
spies, who brought her early information of the movements of 
the enemy. 

And so, shrewd, vigilant, resolute, and courageous, she 
pursued the path she had marked out for herself, to all appear- 
ance satisfied to remain on the defensive, but, in reality, carefully 
noting the weak points in her adversaries' position, and watch- 
ing for the occasion to deliver a crushing blow. Nor was the 
occasion long in presenting itself. 

On 25 March, 1722, Sandrier de Mitry, receiver-general of 
the finances of French Flanders, and secretary and principal 
cashier to La Jonchere, 1 treasurer of the Emergency War Fund, 3 
disappeared from his home, and nothing more was heard of 
him until the i8th of the following month, when his body, 
partially clothed and pierced by two wounds, was discovered in 
the Seine, near Marly. 

1 Gerard Michel, Seigneur de la Jonchere. 

8 The Emergency War Fund had been instituted by Louis XIV. 's celebrated War 
Minister, Louvois, who wished to have large sums of money always at hand for his 
great projects, without being obliged to take the Minister of Finance into his 
confidence, and was maintained, in time of war, by contributions levied on 
conquered territory, and, in time of peace, by a variety of means. The treasurers 
were not bound to render accounts annually, as in other Government offices, but 
were permitted to retain the money and employ it in their own affairs. This system 
had its advantages, but, on the other hand, it lent itself readily to malversation on 
the part of those who had the management of the Fund. 


This mysterious crime created an immense sensation in 
Paris, and a strong suspicion prevailed that La Jonchere, who 
did not bear too high a character, 1 had been plundering the 
State ; that the unfortunate Sandrier had detected the defalca- 
tions, and that the treasurer had caused him to be made away 
with in order to close the matter. 

But rumour, in certain quarters, went further than this, and 
accused the War Minister, Le Blanc, of being a party to the 
crime, or, at any rate, to what was believed to be the cause of 
it. For Le Blanc was not only La Jonchere's official chief, but 
his patron and friend, and it would have been almost impossible 
for the treasurer to have falsified his accounts without the 
Minister being aware of it. 

The authorities, however, declined to see the least connexion 
between the murder of Sandrier and the position which he had 
occupied, and nearly a year passed without any steps being 
taken against La Jonchere. It is, indeed, highly improbable 
that they would ever have been stirred to action had not 
Madame de Prie taken upon herself to intervene. 

No sooner did that energetic lady hear of the crime that 
had been committed and of the rumours that were in circulation 
concerning La Jonchere and Le Blanc, than she resolved to 
employ every means in her power to get to the bottom of the 
affair. Fortune favoured her quest, in bringing her allies, 
wealthy, enterprising, and capable, and as determined to 
compass the ruin of the Minister for War as she was herself. 

Quite apart from the Conde faction, Le Blanc possessed 
many enemies. Of these the most powerful were the four 
brothers Paris, the famous bankers, who, after the Mississippi 
crash, had been entrusted by the Regent with the task of 
restoring the public credit. In the days before they had 
attained their present eminence, the Paris had been in business 
as army-contractors, and Le Blanc, at that time Intendant of 
Flanders, had caused the third brother, Paris-Le Montagne, to 

1 In 1717, he had been summoned before the tribunal appointed to investigate the 
accounts of the commissaries and revenue-farmers, and ordered to make restitution to 
the amount of 600,000 livres to the State. 


be arrested on a charge of rendering fraudulent accounts. More 
recently become Minister for War, he had accused the ablest 
of the four, Paris-Duverney, of infringing the edicts forbidding 
the export of gold, and, though Duverney had succeeded in 
exculpating himself, both he and his brothers were provisionally 
banished from the realm. Hence, the bankers hated Le Blanc 
and had sworn to be avenged on him as soon as they were able. 

The task of re-establishing the finances which had been 
entrusted to them, and which they conducted with undeniable 
skill, of course included an examination of the accounts of the 
public services. Scarcely had they begun to investigate those 
of the Ministry for War than they discovered such flagrant 
irregularities as to leave little room for doubt that a system of 
wholesale robbery prevailed. They immediately drew up a 
report to that effect and despatched it to the Regent, but, in 
their eagerness to bring their enemy to account, they had not 
waited to substantiate the charges they made ; and Philippe 
d'Orl^ans, with whom Le Blanc was just then in high favour, 
excused himself from moving in the matter, on the ground that 
the Minister for War had rendered undoubted service to the 
State, and was extremely popular with the Army, and that, in 
the present critical condition of affairs, it would be better to 
watch his future conduct than to criticize his past acts. 

The bankers were greatly mortified by this repulse. Never- 
theless, they were too embittered against Le Blanc, and too 
apprehensive of reprisals on his part, to abandon the struggle ; 
and they accordingly began to look about them for some power- 
ful ally, whose assistance might enable them to resume it with 
some prospect of success. 

Naturally, their thoughts turned in the direction of the Due 
de Bourbon, but, since they had been the most strenuous 
opponents of his protege Law, and they feared that the prince 
might harbour some resentment against them on that account, 
they hesitated to approach him. Great therefore was their 
satisfaction, when one day they received a letter from Madame 
de Prie proposing an alliance between them and the House of 
Condd against the common enemy. 


The alliance was soon concluded, and, supported openly by 
the whole weight of the Cond influence, and encouraged in 
secret by Dubois, whose jealousy of Le Blanc Madame de Prie 
had artfully fanned, the Paris brothers again advanced to the 
attack, and demanded that a commission should be appointed 
to investigate the accounts of the Ministry for War. 

Their demand was conceded, the commissioners had been 
already nominated, and every one was expecting to hear that 
Le Blanc and La Jonchere had been summoned to appear before 
them, when the faction opposed to the Condds, with the Due 
de Chartres, the Prince de Conti, and the legitimated princes 
at its head, started a violent agitation in favour of Le Blanc, and 
carried the war into the enemy's camp by accusing the Paris 
brothers of having themselves despoiled the State. This 
furnished the Regent with a pretext for intervening between 
the accused and justice, and the meeting of the commission 
was postponed sine die. 

Madame de Prie, however, did not despair. She had made 
sure of the support of Dubois, who in August, 1722, had been 
named ministre principal the same title which had been given 
the Cardinal de Richelieu and her several agents were every- 
where at work. Daily the evidence against Le Blanc was 
accumulating in her hands ; towards the end of the spring of 
1723, it was so overwhelming that she felt that it would be 
impossible for the Regent to ignore it. 

She had ascertained that, apart from their official relations, 
Le Blanc and La Jonchere were on terms of the closest intimacy ; 
that the latter had a pretty and coquettish wife, whom he had 
complacently surrendered to his chief, being himself in love with 
the wife of the unfortunate Sandrier ; that he lived in almost 
princely style, and had, moreover, advanced large sums of money 
to the Comte de Belle-Isle, to defray the cost of a magnificent 
hdtel which he was building on the banks of the Seine, opposite 
the Tuileries ; that, on learning of the death of Sandrier, Le 
Blanc had shown so much emotion that every one present was 
astonished, and that a day or two later he fell ill and was 
obliged to take to his bed. And, finally, she discovered that it 


was practically certain that, in robbing the State, Le Blanc and 
La Jonchere had been acting with the connivance of the Palais- 
Royal, and that a considerable portion of the spoil had found 
its way into the Regent's coffers. 

When she judged that the moment for action had arrived, 
Madame de Prie communicated with Dubois, who, armed with 
the reports she had sent him, went to the Regent, laid them 
before him, and told him very plainly that he could no longer 
support Le Blanc without being immediately compromised. 

Philippe d'Orleans, after a perusal of the documents, was 
obliged to acknowledge that the Minister was right, and 
authorized him to take what steps he considered advisable in 
the matter. Dubois lost no time in setting the Law in motion ; 
the commission met at the house of the Mare'chal de Villars, 
who had been appointed president ; and on 24 May La Jonchere 
was arrested as he was returning from Versailles, in virtue of a 
lettre de cachet signed by the Cardinal, and conducted to the 
Bastille, while the seals were placed on his hotel in the Rue 
Saint-Honor^, and all his registers and 'papers seized by the 
police. At the Bastille, La Jonchere was subjected to two long 
interrogatories by Ravot d'Ombreval, a relative of Dubois, who 
acted as attorney-general to the commission. He appeared 
very agitated, contradicted himself several times, and ended by 
admitting that he had acted dishonestly, and that he was not 
the only one guilty, though he obstinately refused to give the 
names of his accomplices. 

A few days later, two of La Jonchere's principal clerks 
were also arrested, and on 18 June the treasurer was conducted 
to his house to be present at the raising of the seals and the 
sorting of his papers. This operation lasted from eleven o'clock 
in the morning until nine in the evening, when he was escorted 
back to the Bastille, guarded by forty archers and followed by 
two carts filled with his registers and papers. The examination 
of these, which was carried out under the supervision of the 
Lieutenant of Police, d'Argenson, revealed immense defalca- 
tions, and, moreover, left no room for doubt as to the culpability 
of Le Blanc. It also showed that La Jonchere had received a 


great number of the discredited notes of Law's Bank, for 
which he had presumably given in exchange gold to the amount 
of their face value. 

On i July, Le Blanc received orders from the King to send 
him his resignation of the office of Secretary of State for War, 
and to retire immediately to the Chateau of Doue", belonging to 
his son-in-law, the Marquis de Traisnel. A few days later, he 
was replaced by the Marquis de Breteuil, 1 a devoted adherent 
of Monsieur le Due and Madame de Prie. On the i6th, the 
commission, which was now established at the Arsenal, sum- 
moned the two Belle-Isles to appear before it, together with the 
Marquis de Conches and the Comte de Mayieres, two lieutenant- 
generals attached to Le Blanc, and several other persons. The 
Belle-Isles adopted a haughty tone, and protested their inno- 
cence with such indignation that the commission were visibly 
impressed. However, the discovery of a note concealed behind 
the grate in La Jonchere's bedroom, in the Rue Saint-Honore, 
in which the elder brother acknowledged the receipt of 
1,800,000 livres from the treasurer, put a different complexion 
upon the matter. 

The utmost consternation now reigned among the Orleans 
faction, and it seemed as though Madame de Prie had suc- 
ceeded in reducing the enemies of herself and her lover to 
complete impotence, when the death of Dubois, which occurred 
on 10 August, 1/23, intervened to save them, or, at any rate, to 
procure them a respite of some months. 

With the disappearance from the political scene of the 
ambitious cardinal, whose will had so long dominated his own, 
Philippe d'Orle'ans resumed his liberty of action. On the very 
day on which Dubois died, he demanded and obtained from the 
King the post of Prime Minister, cleverly forestalling Monsieur 
le Due, who, on the advice of his mistress, had decided to ask 
for it himself ; and thus united in his own person the titles of 
heir-presumptive to the Crown and Prime Minister. 

1 The letter in which Breteuil received his nomination stated that Le Blanc had 
begged the King to permit him to retire. This was to soften his disgrace, which 
was none the less real. 


The question as to which of the two parties the prince 
would incline greatly agitated the public mind, and it was the 
opinion of most that he would favour that of his wife and son. 
It is very probable that he would have done so, had Monsieur le 
Z>rbeen so maladroit as to display any mortification at his having 
stolen a march upon him, in which case the work of so many 
months might have been undone in a few hours. But Madame 
de Prie was far too astute to permit her lover to commit a 
blunder of this kind ; and, prompted by her, the Due de Bourbon 
hastened to repair to the Palais-Royal, to present his com- 
pliments to the new Prime Minister and to assure him of his 
devotion to his person. 

Thanks to this prudent conduct, although they were not 
allowed to follow up their victory, they retained possession of 
the greater part of the field. Le Blanc remained in exile, and 
his successor, Breteuil, who, as we have mentioned, was devoted 
to their cause, was confirmed in his office: La Jonchere 
remained under lock and key ; while the Belle- Isles and their 
creatures, though they remained at liberty, were kept under 
observation. Finally and this, we may be sure, was not the 
least satisfaction to Madame de Prie her mother found herself 
neglected and reduced to poverty. 

Such was the position of affairs when, on 2 December, 1723, 
the Due d'Orleans was suddenly attacked by apoplexy at 
Versailles, and expired almost immediately, inithe arms of his 
latest inamorata, Madame de Phalaris. Of all the princes, 
Monsieur le Due happened to be the only one on the spot, and 
he did not fail to profit by his good fortune. Following the 
procedure adopted by the deceased prince on the day of 
Dubois's death, he hastened to the King, informed him of the 
loss which he had just sustained, and, almost in the same 
breath, demanded the vacant post of Prime Minister. His 
youthful Majesty, "without being moved by the news," 
conferred it upon him ; the prince, in accordance with custom, 
forthwith took the oath and received the patent ; and when, a 
few hours later, the Due de Chartres, who had received the news 
of his father's death at the Opera in Paris, or, according to 


another account, in the boudoir of an Opera-girl whose society 
he affected, came galloping madly into Versailles, he found, to 
his profound disgust, the place to which he himself aspired 
already filled. Monsieur le Due was the master of the realm, 
and Madame de Prie mistress of all that was his. 


Beginning of the Ministry of Monsieur le Due His early popularity 
Difficulties of the situation Philippe d'Orldans replaced by three new 
powers : Louis XV., Fleury, and Philip V. of Spain Futile negotiations 
between Monsieur le Due and the Orleans faction Madame de Prie advises 
the prince to take the offensive Resumption of the proceedings against La 
Jonchere and his accomplices Indignation and alarm of the Orle'anists 
Attempted assassination of La Guilloniere, in mistake for Paris-Duverney 
Conspiracy against the lives of Monsieur le Due and his mistress Madame 
de Prie insists on prompt and energetic action, and Le Blanc and the Belle- 
Isles are thrown into the Bastille Arrest of Lempereur and other persons 
The Government is determined on the total ruin of Le Blanc Murder of 
Gazan de la Combe La Blanc claims the privilege of being tried by the 
assembled chambers of the Parlement Efforts of Monsieur le Due and 
Madame de Prie to counteract the influence of Fleury over Louis XV. 
Recall of Villeroy Visit of the King of Chantilly Trial of Le Blanc- 
Extraordinary proceedings Acquittal of the accused. 

OUTSIDE the faction opposed to the Condes, the 
elevation of Monsieur le Due was not ill received. 
With the bulk of the nation Philippe d'Orleans had 
never been popular. The people had been unable to forget the 
horrible suspicions concerning him which the successive deaths 
of the Due and Duchesse de Bourgogne, the little Due de 
Bretagne and the Due de Berry had aroused, and many worthy 
persons steadfastly refused to see in the really touching respect 
and affection which he had always shown for the young King 
anything but a cloak for the most sinister designs. The 
middle-classes blamed him for the financial disasters which had 
involved so many of them in ruin, and credited him, very 
absurdly, with the intention of recalling Law. The clergy and 
the devout had been alienated by his debauched life and his 
contempt for religion. Thus, the very real service which he had 



rendered France in maintaining peace, with the exception of 
a brief interval, for eight years, was forgotten, and the advent of 
his successor hailed with almost a sigh of relief. 

It is true that there were not a few, such as the advocate 
Barbier, who regretted the change of rulers, and predicted that 
it was Madame de Prie who would govern the kingdom, and 
" lay her hands on as much money as she could " ; l but, on the 
whole, the possibility of a term of petticoat government does 
not appear to have aroused much uneasiness. 

Monsieur le Due, on his side, neglected nothing to make 
himself popular. Though his manners were usually somewhat 
brusque, he could be charming when he chose to take the 
trouble, and, during the first few weeks of his Ministry, he was 
so affable and so courteous, so considerate and so obliging, that 
he pleased everyone who approached him. The good im- 
pression thus created was strengthened by the diminution of 
several taxes which had weighed very hardly on the Parisians, 
and by the magnanimity he displayed towards those whose 
hostility to him was notorious ; and soon the gazettes were 
chanting in unison the praises of the new Prime Minister, and 
declaring that France was indeed fortunate to have so admirable 
a prince at the head of affairs. 

But this popularity was only momentary, for the difficulties 
of the situation were immense, the task before him one of the 
most ungrateful that could well be imagined ; and it would 
have needed a far more experienced and subtle politician than 
Monsieur le Due to have steered a safe course amid the shoals 
and quicksands that surrounded him. The Treasury was empty 
and the follies of the " System " still unpaid for ; commerce was 
almost annihilated ; the Church rent by the Jansenist schism ; 
the Court a battle-ground for contending factions, one of which 
regarded the new Prime Minister with the bitterest hostility. 
And, in place of the Regent and Dubois, three new powers had 
arisen ; two close at hand, the young King and his preceptor, 
Fleury, Bishop of Frejus ; the other distant, Spain, represented 
by Philip V. 

1 "Journal de Barbier," December, 1723. 


The young Louis XV., whose majority had been proclaimed 
six months before, on completing his thirteenth year, was a 
most perplexing factor in the situation. D'Argenson calls 
him " an impenetrable personage " ; Luynes " an indefinable 
being" ; in a word, he was a mystery to the whole Court. 
Ostensibly, he cared for nothing but the chase, gambling 1 and 
the pleasures of the table ; but many were of opinion that this 
frivolity and indifference were but assumed ; that very little that 
took place escaped him ; and that the time was not far distant 
when he would begin to assert his authority in no uncertain 
manner. Morose, uncommunicative, egotistical, he repulsed all 
the efforts of the courtiers of both sexes to ingratiate themselves 
with him, and reserved his confidence, and the little affection of 
which he seemed capable, for one person his preceptor, the 
Bishop of Frejus. 

The rise of Andre Hercule Fleury had been remarkable. 
Though without great talents or high connexions he was the 
son of a collector of taxes at his native town of Lodeve he had 
understood so well the art of insinuating himself into the good 
graces of every one who was in a position to advance his 
fortunes, that obstacles disappeared before him as snow melts 
in the sun. "He was what one might call a true wheedler," 
writes Saint-Simon, who allows us to perceive in the portrait 
which he has drawn of him something of the jealousy which his 
extraordinary good fortune had inspired. He wheedled himself 
into the favour of the Cardinal de Bonzy, who brought him to 
Court and obtained for him the post of almoner to Queen Maria 
Theresa ; he wheedled himself into that of his royal mistress, of 
the Duchesse de Bourgogne, of the Due and Duchesse du Maine, 
and, finally, into that of Louis XIV.. who a few months before his 
death nominated him preceptor to the Dauphin. 

If he failed to cultivate the good qualities which Louis XV. 
showed as a child, and cannot therefore escape some of the 
responsibility for the scandals and the disasters of that unfortu- 
nate reign, he succeeded little by little in gaining the entire 

1 Louis XV.'s love of play first revealed itself towards the end of 1722. In July, 
1724, Marais writes that " the King is a terrible gambler." 




confidence of his pupil. Jealous of his influence, Philippe d'Or- 
leans endeavoured to separate him from the boy by the offer of 
the archbishopric of Rheims, the first episcopal dignity in the 
realm. But Fleury knew where his true interests lay, and 
declined it. Nothing, he declared, should distract him from the 
duty which he owed to his young Sovereign. When, in 1722, 
Louis XV.'s goiiverneur y the Marechal de Villeroy, was banished 
by the Regent from Court, Fleury, deeming that his honour 
obliged him to share the disgrace of his superior and protector, 
followed him into exile. But his departure occasioned the 
young King such distress that he lost no time in recalling him, 
by a letter in his own hand an action upon which it is 
probable the astute old gentleman had confidently counted. 

At the time of the death of Philippe d'Orl^ans, Fleury was 
in his seventy-first year, an age at which most men have 
renounced ambition and are thinking only of repose. The 
Bishop of Fre'jus, however, felt that he had some years of 
activity yet before him, and he was resolved to climb to the 
very pinnacle of fortune. He might easily have persuaded 
Louis XV. to make him Prime Minister, but he counselled the 
young King to entrust the direction of affairs to the Due de 
Bourbon ; perhaps, because he hoped to govern through him ; 
more probably, because he foresaw that Monsieur le Duds 
Ministry must be of brief duration, and that his own elevation 
would be far better received after the prince had been allowed 
his chance. 

Monsieur le Due and Madame de Prie were not blind to the 
danger which threatened from this quarter. In his quality of 
priest, Fleury could not fail to disapprove of the relations exist- 
ing between them, and that he had communicated his sentiments 
to his royal pupil was very evident from the coldness with which 
his Majesty treated the marchioness. Nor could it be said that 
the King regarded Monsieur le D^(c with any marked degree of 
favour ; indeed, he appeared to avoid him, and not infrequently 
when the Prime Minister had requested an audience, he was 
informed that M. de Fre'jus would receive any communication 
that he might wish to make. 


Encouraged by this, the Orleans party began to make over- 
tures to Fleury with a view to an alliance. But the preceptor 
preferred to retain his liberty of action, and their advances met 
with no formal response. It was, however, impossible to say how 
long he would continue to remain neutral, and the possibility 
of so powerful a coalition being formed against them occasioned 
the Due de Bourbon and his mistress profound uneasiness. 

The third power was Philip V. of Spain. 

After the conclusion of peace between France and Spain at 
the beginning of 1720, the Regent and Dubois, anxious to re- 
establish friendly relations between the two great branches of 
the House of Bourbon, proposed a triple matrimonial alliance, 
to which Philip V. and Isabella Farnese readily consented. In 
accordance with this arrangement, the Infanta Isabella Luisa, 
then in her fifth year, was sent to the Court of France, to be 
brought up until she had reached a marriageable age, when 
she was to become the wife of Louis XV. ; the fourth of the 
Regent's six daughters, Mile, de Montpensier, was married to 
the Prince of the Asturias, heir to the Crown of Spain ; while 
the fifth of the Orleans princesses, Mile, de Beaujolais, who was 
only six years old, was sent to Madrid, where it was proposed 
that, in due course, she should wed Don Carlos, the eldest son 
of Philip V. and his second wife, Isabella Farnese. 

Connected thus closely with the Orleans, Philip V. had 
everything to lose by events which excluded his allies from 
power. In January, 1724, he had abdicated in favour of the Prince 
of the Asturias, though the new king's authority was merely 
nominal, and on the son's death, some months later, the father 
resumed the Crown. Some writers maintain that this abdica- 
tion was in fulfilment of a vow that he had made in 1720 ; 
others believe that it was intended to facilitate his designs on 
the French throne ; and this is far from improbable. For it is 
certain that Philip had not abandoned the hopes which he had 
cherished since the death of his grandfather, and which the 
feeble health of Louis XV., the well-known incapacity of the new 
Due d'Orleans, and the false reports of his partisans concern- 
ing the popularity which he enjoyed in Paris, served to sustain. 


But Monsieur le Due was determined to resist to the uttermost 
any such pretensions, if only from jealousy of the Orleans. 
Hence, Philip detested the new Prime Minister, who was well 
aware that his Catholic Majesty would employ all the influence 
he possessed at the Court of France to effect his overthrow. 

In the face of these dangers and embarrassments, it was 
only natural that Monsieur le Due should have proceeded at first 
with caution and moderation, and have gone as far as he could 
reasonably be expected to go to disarm the malice of his foes. 
Such a course, indeed, was dictated by the most elementary 
prudence. It served, however, no useful purpose beyond 
proving to him the futility of attempting to conciliate those 
whom nothing but a virtual renunciation of his authority 
would be likely to satisfy. The Due d'Orl^ans, it is true, 
declared himself, in his own name and that of his party, 
perfectly willing for an immediate reconciliation, and offered 
to marry Mile de Sens, the youngest sister of his rival. But 
the conditions he desired to impose the recall of Le Blanc 
and his restoration to the Ministry for War, and his own 
admission to every audience which Monsieur le Due had with 
the King were quite impossible for the other to accept. 

However, the Prime Minster, on the advice of his mistress, 
begged to be excused from giving an immediate answer and 
demanded a few weeks for reflection. A brief truce followed, 
during which Monsieur le Due still further strengthened his repu- 
tation for impartiality by including a number of combatants 
from the opposite camp in an important promotion to the Ordre 
du Saint-Esprit. The new cordons bleus also included the husband 
and personal friends of Madame de Prie, who, at the same time, 
obtained for herself a lodging in the Chateau of Versailles. 
This was a move of the first importance, since it enabled Monsieur 
le Due to have close at hand in every emergency the woman 
who was not only his mistress, but his most trusted counsellor. 

In these early days of the new regime, the favourite 
appeared to be taking little or no interest in politics and to 
be absorbed wholly in pleasure. Never had Chantilly received 
so many visitors ; while, when Monsieur le Due was in Paris or 


at Versailles, the Hotel de Conde or the Hotel of the Grand 
Master was always the centre of animation. The latter hdtel, 
which the King had lately purchased from the Dowager- 
Princess de Conti and presented to the prince, was transformed 
by Monsieur Ic Due and his mistress, whose good taste was 
indisputable, into the most charming residence imaginable. 
The two Coypels, Jean Francois de Troy, Louis de Boulogne, 
Lemoine, Verdier, Restout, Gazes all the best painters and 
sculptors of the day were employed in the decoration of its 
salons ; splendid tapestries, exquisite porcelain, costly objets 
d'art were to be seen on every side. 

The favourite possessed a beautiful voice and a wonderful 
talent of interpretation. During her residence at Turin she 
had conceived a passion for the works of the Italian composers, 
up to this time very little known in France. With the aid of 
Crozat, a wealthy banker of the Rue des Petits-Champs, who 
shared her enthusiasm, she proceeded to organize a company of 
amateurs, who gave concerts at the houses of several persons of 
distinction. These artistic reunions soon became popular and 
undoubtedly contributed to form the taste of the nation. 

But while Madame de Prie, all smiles and gaiety, seemed 
to have no thought beyond the enjoy mentt of life, she was 
in secret carefully maturing her plans. Since the hostile 
faction refused to be placated, save at a price which would 
entail the virtual sacrifice of all that the Condes had gained, 
she was determined to continue the struggle ; and she had 
persuaded Monsieur le Due that the wiser course was not to 
wait to be attacked, but to take the offensive themselves. 

Towards the middle of February, 1724, no small sensation 
was aroused by the news that Ravot d'Ombreval had been 
appointed Lieutenant of Police in place of d'Argenson, whom 
the Due de . Chartres had persuaded to resign his office, 
and that Paris-Duverney had become Guardian of the Royal 
Treasure. These appointments were very significant, for 
d'Ombreval, besides being a devoted adherent of Monsieur le Dttc 
and Madame de Prie, had acted as prosecuting counsel before 
the Commission, while Duverney and his brothers were the 


most implacable of all the enemies of Le Blanc ; and little 
surprise was expressed at the announcement, a few days later, 
that the proceedings against La Jonchere were to be resumed 

The indignation and alarm of the Organists knew no 
bounds, for those already summoned before the Commission 
were not the only persons who had had interesting financial 
transactions with the treasurer of the Emergency War Fund, 
and, now that the Condes were in power, there was no saying 
how far the net might not be cast, added to which there was the 
murder of Sandrier, which would without doubt be closely 

From several quarters warnings reached Monsieur le Due 
and Madame de Prie that the lives of Duverney and d'Om- 
breval, if not their own, were in danger. They refused to 
attach any importance to them, for, though they were aware of 
the unscrupulous character of some of their adversaries, they 
could not bring themselves to believe that they would carry 
their enmity to such lengths. However, they had soon cause 
to alter their opinion. 

One evening, at the end of February, 1724, a M. de la 
Guilloniere, a cousin of the Pdris brothers, had just alighted 
from his coach at the door of Duverney's hotel in the Rue 
Saint-Antoine, when he was set upon by masked men, who 
stabbed him in several places, and then took to flight, leaving 
him apparently dead upon -the ground. Happily his wounds, 
though dangerous, were not mortal, and eventually he recovered. 

Now, La Guilloniere, both in build and gait, bore a strong 
resemblance to Duverney, and no reasonable doubt existed 
that the blows aimed at him had been intended for his cousin, 
for the would-be assassins had been observed loitering round 
the banker's hdtel for some time previously. 

A warning which Monsieur le Due received a day or two 
later made it equally clear that, Duverney disposed of, the 
scoundrels intended to turn their attentions to more exalted 

The Cardinal de Noailles, Archbishop of Paris, demanded 


an audience of the Prime Minister on a matter of the most 
urgent importance, and, when admitted, told him, in great 
agitation, that he had just learned from one of his priests that, 
in a confession which had been made to him, the penitent 
had spoken of a plot to murder both Monsieur le Due and 
Madame de Prie. The prelate had hesitated before violating 
the secret of the confessional, but reasons of State had prevailed. 

Almost at the same time, a letter which the Chevalier de 
Belle-Isle had endeavoured to pass into the Bastille to La 
Jonchere was intercepted. This letter, among other pressing 
recommendations to the prisoner, contained that of maintaining 
silence in all circumstances in regard to his relations with Le 
Blanc, and promised that, if he did this, the friends of the latter 
would undertake to save him. 

So astounded were Monsieur le Due and the majority of his 
counsellors at such tactics on the part of their enemies that, for 
a moment, they were at a loss how to proceed. Madame de 
Prie, however, retained her presence of mind and insisted on 
prompt and energetic action, pointing out that it was now a 
case of war to the knife in the most literal sense of the 
expression, and that, if they did not hasten to crush their 
adversaries, they would certainly be crushed themselves. 

It was ultimately decided to follow her counsels. The 
Chevalier de Belle-Isle was forthwith arrested and conveyed to 
the Chateau of Vincennes. On 5 March, Du Val, commandant 
of the mounted police, furnished with a lettre de cachet, pro- 
ceeded to Doue, where he arrested the late Minister for War 
and conducted him to Paris and the Bastille. The same night, 
the police surrounded the hotel of the Comte de Belle-Isle, with 
orders to apprehend both the count and his friend the Marquis 
de Conches, who was staying with him. They secured Belle-Isle 
and escorted him to the Bastille, whither his younger brother 
had been transferred a few hours previously ; but Conches 
disguised himself and succeeded in effecting his escape by 
a secret door. He did not, however, remain long at large, for 
he was captured the following day at a house in the Rue 
Tavannes, where he had taken refuge, and sent to join his 


friends in misfortune. Numerous other arrests followed, in- 
cluding that of Moreau de Sechelles, a high official at the 
Ministry of War and an intimate friend of Le Blanc. But 
what aroused the most sensation was the apprehension of 
a man named Lempereur and his two sons and of two brothers 
called Mestre, sons of a soldier in the Cent-Suisses. 

This Lempereur, who lived in an isolated house near the 
wood of Rueil, had formerly been a gardener at the Chateau 
of La Jonchere, and he was suspected of having murdered 
Sandrier, with the assistance of his sons and the Mestres. 
He was also suspected of being concerned in another crime, 
which the police believed to be closely connected with the first. 
One evening in September, 1722 that is to say, about five 
months after the discovery of Sandrier's body a carter in the 
employ of the tenant of La Malmaison, a farm upon the La 
Jonchere estate, afterwards celebrated as the residence of the 
Empress Josephine, had been murdered close to his master's 
door. As nothing upon him had been touched, and he was 
not known to have any private enemies, the inference was 
that he had been in possession of certain facts concerning the 
death of Sandrier which had made his removal necessary to 
the safety of the assassins. 

It was the intention of the new Government to concentrate 
all their efforts to secure the total ruin of Le Blanc, the very 
life and soul of the hostile faction. He was to be brought to 
trial on two charges : the old one of embezzlement of public 
funds, the new one of homicide. The first would be easy to 
prove ; in fact, his culpability, if not the exact extent of it, had 
been clearly revealed by the examination of La Jonchere's 
papers. The second presented much greater difficulties, but 
it was obvious that a conviction on the charge of embezzlement 
would greatly facilitate the task of the prosecution. 

The Orleanists, on their side, made the most desperate 
efforts to intimidate their adversaries into abandoning their 
designs against the ex-Secretary of State. Insults and menaces 
rained upon Monsieur le Due, upon Madame de Prie, upon 
the Paris brothers, upon d'Ombreval, and upon all their most 


prominent supporters ; the most disgusting effusions concerning 
the Prime Minister and his favourite were scattered about in 
the gallery and salons of Versailles and even in the bedchamber 
of the young King ; the most biting chansons circulated in 
Paris ; almost every day came warnings that their lives were 
in danger ; and a relative and staunch adherent of Madame 
de Prie died suddenly, in circumstances which left little doubt 
that he had been poisoned. 

The Government, however, refused to be diverted from its 
course. The proceedings against La Jonchere were continued, 
and on 15 April, 1724, the Commission censured him, declared 
him incapable of holding any office under the Crown, and 
condemned him to restore to the King 2,10x3,000 livres a 
very small part of the amount of which the State had been 
defrauded. 1 The Comte de Belle-Isle was to be surety for 
600,000 livres of this sum. 

This mitigated condemnation was intended to convey the 
impression that La Jonchere had only been acting under the 
orders of the late Minister for War, and : that the latter was 
the real culprit. 

In the meanwhile, the Government had decided to endeavour 
to bring home to Le Blanc yet another mysterious crime. In 
the spring of 1718, a certain Gazan de la Combe, of whom very 
little is known, had been found dead, strangled by a cord 
attached to the foot of his bed, at the house of La Barre, lieu- 
tenant of the constabulary, in the Rue Notre-Dame de Bonne- 
Nouvelle. Le Blanc and other Ministers had, it appeared, been 
in the habit of consigning to the care of La Barre certain persons 
who had incurred their displeasure, and it was given out that the 
dead man had been confined there on account of intrigues on 
behalf of the Spanish Ambassador, the Due and Duchesse du 
Maine, and their accomplices, and that, knowing that it was the 
intention of the Government to bring him to trial, he had, in his 
despair, committed suicide. Now, however, an officer in the 
Army came forward who informed the police that, at the time 

1 The total amount of the defalcations was estimated at 12,000,000 livres at the 
very least. 


of the death of La Combe, he happened to be detained in the 
same house, by orders of Le Blanc ; that one morning, attracted 
by cries of terror from the wife of La Barre, he had hurried to 
La Combe's room, where he found him lying dead, but that, 
from the position of the body, he was of opinion that it was 
impossible for him to have taken his own life. He added that, 
while he was in the room, Le Blanc had entered, accompanied 
by La Barre ; that the Minister, on perceiving him, had appeared 
very agitated, and had demanded of La Barre why he had not 
set him at liberty two days before, in accordance with his instruc- 
tions, and had then ordered him to leave the house. This 
evidence was subsequently confirmed by one of La Barre's 

In the opinion of the police, there was little doubt that the 
unfortunate La Combe had, like Sandrier, been in possession of 
certain facts concerning the Emergency War Fund which made 
his removal advisable ; and La Barre and his wife were promptly 
arrested and conducted to the Bastille. 

Matters now began to look very black indeed for Le Blanc, 
and there were not a few who declared that he might consider 
himself very fortunate if he did not terminate his career on the 
gibbet. But, fortunately for the ex-Minister for War, he was, 
through his title of honorary mattre dts requites, a member of 
the Parlement of Paris, and had therefore the right to demand 
to be judged by all the Chambers sitting together ; and just as 
he was about to be brought to trial, he presented to the Parle- 
ment a petition to that effect, which was immediately granted. 

This move on the part of the accused was a serious check to 
Monsieur le Dtic and Madame de Prie, who for a moment had 
imagined that they had their enemy in their power, and that 
they were on the point of dealing, through his condemnation, 
an overwhelming blow to the hostile faction. For the Parle- 
ment was not unnaturally inclined to indulgence when the mis- 
deeds of one of its own members was in question, and Le Blanc 
had had the good fortune to ingratiate himself with it during 
the Regency. Moreover, the Orleans counted many friends 
among the magistracy, the Conde"s comparatively few. 


However, as the trial was not to come on for several months, 
they hoped, in the interval, so to strengthen their position that, 
even if the issue were unfavourable to them, the consequences 
would be of comparatively small importance. Their great 
object was to ingratiate themselves with Louis XV. and to 
combat the increasing influence of Fleury over the young 
monarch's mind, in which they perceived an even greater danger 
than the enmity of the Orleans. 

"The Prime Minister governs certainly," writes that shrewd 
observer, the Venetian Ambassador, Morosini, " and directs the 
affairs of the kingdom, as well as its foreign policy. The 
bishop appears to court effacement and to be reluctant to 
meddle with anything. But nothing is concluded without the 
King's consent, and the King decides nothing without the 
bishop's approval. A few days ago, for example, Monsieur le 
Due presented himself to beg him to name an hour which would 
be convenient to him for work. The King was playing cards 
with the Due de Noailles, and, not seeing the Bishop of Frejus, 
gave orders that he should be summoned immediately. After 
which he continued to play until the arrival of the bishop, whom 
he then caused to enter into his cabinet with Monsieur le Due. 
What passed on this occasion is constantly happening. ... I 
hear that the Prime Minister has never had a conversation with 
the King alone, while the bishop speaks to him when and where 
he pleases. 

" Moreover, it is continually being said in public that, if an 
ecclesiastic is to continue the traditions of the Dubois, the 
Mazarins, and the Richelieus, it will be without doubt the 
Bishop of Frejus. . . . 

" Monsieur le Due and his entourage perceive with mortifica- 
tion the continual encroachments of the bishop. They fear and 
detest him, but they dare not attack him openly, finding his 
position too strong." 

However, if Fleury's position were too strong to be carried 
by a direct attack, it was not too strong to be undermined, and 
the idea occurred to Madame de Prie to draw the aged Marshal 
de Villeroy, Louis XV.'s former gouverneur t from his retirement 


and oppose him to the Bishop of Frejus. The marshal, it will 
be remembered, had been banished from Court by the Regent in 
1722, since which time he had been vegetating in his government 
of Lyons. The young King had been attached to Villeroy and 
had shed bitter tears when he learned of his disgrace, and if, in 
the interval, his sentiments had not changed, the eyi-gouvernetir 
might easily become a formidable rival to the bishop. 

Louis XV. seemed quite delighted at the prospect of seeing 
his old friend again, and the hopes of the conspirators ran high. 
But they were fated never to materialize, for, though his Majesty 
received the marshal graciously enough, he subsequently took 
so little notice of him, that the old man, deeply mortified, almost 
immediately quitted the Court and never appeared there again. 
Thus, the influence of Fleury remained as potent as ever, and, 
since he had not failed to penetrate this little manoeuvre, the 
antipathy which he had always felt for Monsieur le Due and the 
favourite was not lessened. 

But Madame de Prie was a young woman of infinite resource 
and she had many cards in her hands. Every day Monsieur le Due 
relied more on her counsels, not only because he had formed the 
highest opinion of her intelligence, but because, as he explained 
after his disgrace, he felt that she was devoted to his interests, 
" up to the annihilation of every other sentiment." 

No longer did she make any pretence of being absorbed in 
pleasure, as in the first weeks of her lover's Ministry. She had 
become a politician of the most ardent kind, and the greater part 
of her time was passed in her cabinet, dictating to the two 
secretaries she employed for her immense correspondence, dis- 
cussing with the Ministers, who, by their chief's desire, invariably 
consulted her, the most difficult questions, and making notes on 
the placets presented to Monsieur le Due, every one of which was 
submitted to her. All who approached her were astonished at 
her industry, at the shrewdness of her judgment, and at her 
grasp of matters which are usually considered quite beyond the 
comprehension of a young woman. " She was," wrote the Abbe 
Legendre, " a heroine capable of regulating the affairs of a vast 


The immense patronage which Monsieur le Due exercised 
in both his private and official capacities was almost entirely 
directed by her, and, though she was, of course, guided chiefly 
by party considerations, some of her selections showed sound 
judgment. Thus, her choice of the Due de Richelieu, in 1725, 
for the Embassy at Vienna, though ridiculed at the time, was 
really a very happy one ; and this is admitted even by historians 
so little favourable to Madame de Prie as Lemon tey. * Without 
allowing herself to be discouraged by the failure of the Villeroy 
affair, the marchioness promptly proceeded to make another 
and more important move. 

The surest way to gain the good graces of the young King 
was to exploit his passion for the chase. Well, no one was better 
able to procure him this diversion than Monsieur le Due. His 
forests of Chantilly and Halatte abounded in big game, already 
beginning to fail in those in the vicinity of Versailles, owing to 
their being too constantly hunted. The hunting establishment 
of the prince, moreover, enjoyed an almost European reputa- 
tion, while he himself was a famous man when hounds were 

At the suggestion of his mistress, Monsieur le Due proposed 
to the King that he should honour him by hunting his forests 
and spend the months of July and August at Chantilly, by which 
means not only would they have every opportunity of gaining 
the young monarch's favour by gratifying his taste for sport and 
amusement, but he would be removed for a time from the in- 
fluence of Fleury, and also from that of the Orleans' faction, 
which was continually bombarding him with petitions on behalf 
of Le Blanc and complaints as to the alleged ill-treatment to 
which the ex-Minister and his fellow-prisoners were being 
subjected in the Bastille. 

Louis XV. received the proposal with delight, and on the last 
day of June he set out for Chantilly, accompanied by a splendid 
entourage, from which Monsieur le Due and Madame de Prie had 
taken care that every one avowedly hostile to their cause should 

1 See his " Histoire de la Regence," and the author's " The Fascinating Due de 
Richelieu" (London, Methuen : New York, Scribner, 1910). 


be excluded, although they had decided to admit several of the 
more moderate partisans of the Orleans, whom they hoped to 
win over. The weather was magnificent, and Chantilly had never 
looked more beautiful. The King " indulged every day in the 
amusement of the chase, either of the stag or the boar, and 
appeared very satisfied with the cares which Monsieur le Due 
took without ceasing to render his stay at this superb chateau 
agreeable." His Majesty dined daily with the princes and 
nobles whom he did the honour to select, and in the evening 
supped with Madame la Duchesse, Mile, de Clermont, and a few 
ladies and nobles, whom he named in rotation, his table being 
served with extreme magnificence. After supper, the company 
adjourned to a gallery adjoining the King's apartments, where 
high play went on until a late hour, to the accompaniment of 
Monsieur le Dues private band. 

Thus the days went by, and his Majesty was so delighted with 
the splendid sport provided for him, and the unceasing efforts of 
Monsieur le Due and Madame de Prie to keep him amused, that 
his former prejudice against them seemed to have disappeared 
entirely. He laughed and jested with his host, invited the 
marchioness to sup at his own table and to ride in his carriage 
to the chase, and, indeed, was so gracious to that lady that a 
rumour circulated in Paris that she and her fair friends had 
designs upon the virtue of the young monarch. In short, 
everything was proceeding as well as could possibly be desired, 
and the King had even decided to prolong his visit beyond the 
time he had originally fixed, when a most unexpected and un- 
fortunate event brought it to an abrupt conclusion, and with 
it all the calculations of Madame de Prie. 

On the afternoon of 31 August, the young Due de Melun, 
one of the few of his courtiers for whom Louis XV. had shown 
any partiality, was charged by a stag which he was pursuing, 
and so badly gored that he died in the early hours of the 
following morning. This tragedy produced so painful an 
impression upon the young King that it was only with great 
difficulty that he could be prevented from returning to Versailles 
that very evening, and, though he consented to postpone his 


departure until 3 September, he scarcely left his apartments and 
refused to share in any amusement. He quitted the splendid 
residence of Monsieur le Due with very different feelings from 
those which he had shown a few days previously, and there 
could be little doubt that the death of the Due de Melun 
had effaced the good impression which the prince and his mis- 
tress had been at such infinite pains to create, and that it would 
be many a long day ere he consented to return to a spot which 
possessed such dolorous associations. 

And so, like the recall of Villeroy, the Chantilly visit had 
failed to produce the desired effect, though through no fault of 
those who had planned it ; and at the beginning of 1725 the 
Conde" party sustained another check. 

On 7 January, the late Minister for War, Le Blanc, was 
arraigned before the assembled Chambers, charged with being 
an accomplice of the murders of Gazan de la Combe, Sandrier, 
and the carter of La Malmaison, and of the attempted assassina- 
tion of La Guilloniere. The trial, into the details of which it 
is impossible to enter here, lasted a fortnight, but almost from 
the first day it was evident that the result was a foregone con- 
clusion. The entry of the Due d'Orleans, the Prince de Conti 
and their suites into the Grande Chambre was greeted with loud 
murmurs of approbation ; that of the peers of the Conde party, 
the Dues de la Feuillade, de Brancas, and de Richelieu, with 
derisive laughter. The Bishops of Sarlat and Avranches, Le 
Blanc's brothers, the Marechal de Bezons, his brother-in-law, 
the Chevalier Le Blanc, his son, and other relatives and intimate 
friends of the accused, sat together in a body and displayed 
so much emotion that many of the judges could hardly restrain 
their tears. And the line taken by the defence that Le Blanc 
was a victim of party rancour and that the charges against him 
had been manufactured by the Government was admirably 
calculated to appeal to the prejudice of a magistracy which 
almost invarably found itself in opposition to the Ministry of 
the day. 

The proceedings, contrary to custom, were conducted with 
closed doors, the public being rigorously excluded ; a great part 




of the evidence for the prosecution was ruled out, while every- 
thing that was likely to tell in favour of the accused was at once 
admitted. On the third day, the Dues de la Feuillade, de Brancas, 
and de Richelieu withdrew, and were followed by all the coun- 
sellors of the Conde party ; but the Due d'Orleans and the Prince 
de Conti continued to encourage the defence by their presence 
for some days longer. Finally, on 21 January, the Parlement, 
by the unanimous vote of sixty-nine judges, acquitted Le Blanc 
on all four changes a verdict which was received with applause 
by the public, with whom, owing to various reasons, of which 
we shall speak hereafter, the Ministry of Monsieur le Due was 
fast losing what popularity it had once possessed, and who, 
ignorant of the strength of the evidence against Le Blanc, saw 
in him only a victim of the hatred of the Paris brothers and 
Madame de Prie. Notwithstanding what certain historians, who 
were unacquainted with the facts as they are known to-day, 
have asserted to the contrary, there can be very little doubt that 
the ex-Minister for War had benefited by one of those scandalous 
miscarriages of justice of which the records of the Parlement 
of Paris afford only too many examples. Before an impartial 
tribunal he would have been almost certainly found guilty on 
the charges relating to Gazan de la Combe and La Guilloniere, 
and probably on the others also ; and, whatever may be thought 
of the motives of Madame de Prie, she had rendered a public 
service by her efforts to run to earth this highly-placed criminal. 

Le Blanc, although, as a wag remarked, "after being very 
black, he had been made white (blanc] again," was not immedi- 
ately released, but remained in the Bastille until the following 
12 May, when he was set at liberty and exiled to Lisieux. On 
the same day, the Comte de Belle-Isle was also liberated, and 
exiled to Carcassonne. Two months later, La Jonchere also 
found himself a free man. 

The ex-Minister's accomplices were brought to trial before 
the Tournelle, 1 and were all acquitted, with the exception of La 
Jonchere's gardener Lempereur, who was found guilty of the 
La Malmaison murder and broken on the wheel. He paid for all. 

1 The Tournelle was the court of criminal jurisdiction of the Parlement. 


Monsieur le Due and Madame de Prie determine to break off the 
marriage of Louis XV. and the Infanta, and to marry the young King to a 
princess capable of at once giving him an heir Double interest of the 
favourite in the accomplishment of this design Question of the remarriage 
of Monsieur le Due Madame de Prie, unable to oppose this, selects Marie 
Leczinska Rupture of the Spanish marriage Exasperation of the Court of 
Madrid Difficulty of finding a suitable consort for Louis XV. Madame de 
Prie accused of having barred the way of Mile, de Vermandois to the crown 
matrimonial The favourite advocates the claims of Marie Leczinska, who is 
eventually chosen Triumph of Madame de Prie Arrival of the new Queen 
A model husband Growing unpopularity of the Government and increasing 
influence of Fleury An unsuccessful intrigue Madame de Prie retires from 
Court, but Monsieur le Dttc insists on her return Disgrace of Monsieur le 
Due His mother and his mistress follow him to Chantilly Madame de 
Prie is exiled to Normandy A touching farewell Chivalrous behaviour of 
the prince Death of Madame de Prie Remarriage of Monsieur le Due 
His death. 

Jl/fONSIEUR LE DUG and Madame de Prie did not 

1 VJ- allow themselves to be cast down by the reverse which 

they had sustained at the Palais de Justice, since for some 

months they had been meditating a most daring project, which, 

they believed, would render them absolute masters of the field. 

We have mentioned that in 1721 the Infanta Luisa Isabella, 
then in her fifth year, had been sent to the French Court to be 
brought up there until she had reached a marriageable age, when 
she was to become the wife of Louis XV. Well, this arrange- 
ment had always been regarded with the strongest disfavour by 
Monsieur le Due and his mistress. In the first place, years must 
elapse before the " Infanta-Queen," as the little princess was 
called, would be able to bear an heir to the throne, and should 
Louis XV. die without male issue, their enemy, the Due de 
Chartres, would become King. In the second, should the 



Infanta succeed in gaining any influence over the young monarch's 
mind, that influence would certainly be exploited by Philip V. 
to bring about the dismissal of Monsieur le Diic and the elevation 
of the Orleans. 

During the visit of the King to Chantilly in the previous 
summer they had taken counsel with Pdris-Duverney and their 
principal advisers, and had decided that the Infanta must be 
sent back to Spain, even at the risk of an open breach with 
Philip V. ; and Louis XV. married to some princess who could 
at once make him a father. 

Madame de Prie had personally a double interest in the 
accomplishment of this design, for not only would it remove 
the greatest dangers which Monsieur le Due had to fear and 
immensely strengthen his position, but the marriage of the King 
and the birth of a prince would serve to retard perhaps indefi- 
nitely the marriage of her lover. For while only two lives stood 
between Monsieur le Due and the throne, it was obviously his 
duty to take a second wife, and Madame la Duchesse was con- 
tinually urging him to do so. Such a prospect was naturally 
most distasteful to Madame de Prie, not because she had much 
reason to fear a rival in the prince's affections, but because she 
had become so attached to him that she could not bear the 
thought of surrendering him, even nominally, to another woman, 
Moreover, his remarriage must interfere to some extent with 
that free intercourse which had hitherto existed between them, 
and which, for political as well as sentimental reasons, might 
occasion serious inconvenience. 

However, since she did not see her way to offer any opposi- 
tion to the affair without the risk of an open quarrel with 
Madame la Duchesse, she decided to accept the inevitable, and to 
occupy herself in finding a wife for her lover who, while not pos- 
sessing sufficient personal attractions to cause her any jealousy, 
would be sufficiently complaisant to reduce the incoveniences 
which she feared to a minimum. 

She accordingly lent Madame la Duchesse her most devoted 
adherents, the same whom she was presently to employ on 
behalf of Louis XV. ; and the Courts of Europe were ransacked 


to find a suitable partner for the chief of the Condes. The search 
proved to be a difficult one, for Madame de Prie's requirements 
naturally caused not a few otherwise eligible young ladies to 
be passed over by her agents ; but, at length, her old admirer 
Lozilieres, formerly secretary to the Embassy at Turin, who 
journeyed under the name of the Chevalier de Mere and in the 
character of a wandering artist, reported the discovery of one 
whom he thought might answer her purpose. 

The princess in question was Marie Leczinska, daughter of 
Stanislaus Leczinski, the dethroned and fugitive King of 
Poland, who was now vegetating sadly at Weissembourg, in 
Alsace. She was described as pleasing in appearance, though 
without any pretensions to beauty, very amiable, very kind- 
hearted, and entirely devoid of ambition ; in short, exactly the 
kind of young woman to make Monsieur le Due a good wife, 
without threatening any danger to his mistress. The favourite's 
suggestion of an alliance between the Due de Bourbon and the 
Polish princess was well received by Madame la DucJtesse, for, 
though the young lady's father was at present in exile, it was 
far from improbable that a turn of fortune might one day restore 
him to his throne ; Monsieur le Due offered no opposition ; 
Stanislaus gave thanks to Heaven that his daughter's hand was 
sought by so powerful a prince ; Marie had no other wish than 
that of her father ; and the affair was almost concluded, when 
events occurred which decided the Government that the marriage 
of the King to a princess capable of bearing him children was a 
question which admitted of no delay. 

On 30 August, 1724, the young King of Spain died, and 
Philip V. resumed the crown which he had resigned a few 
months before. Early in 1725, a despatch from Philip to his 
Ambassador at the Court of Versailles was intercepted by the 
agents of Monsieur le Due, which showed that it was his inten- 
tion to demand " the public declaration of the nuptial arrange- 
ments" between Louis XV. and the Infanta. And, almost 
immediately after this discovery, the young King fell so ill that 
for several days he was believed to be in serious danger. 

This last event precipitated matters, and the French Govern- 


ment resolved not to wait until the new fiancee was chosen, but 
to inform the Court of Madrid at once of the resolution at 
which they had arrived. The Marchal de Tesse, the French 
Ambassador, little suitable to undertake so disagreeable a com- 
mission, on account of his great attachment to Philip V., was 
recalled, and it was the Abbe de Livry, charged' affaires at Lisbon, 
who presented to his Catholic Majesty the letter in which Louis 
XV. endeavoured to justify the affront which he was inflicting on 
his uncle. " Trembling from head to foot, the abbe presented 
to the King his master's letter. The Queen was at the end of 
the cabinet, occupied with her correspondence. Suddenly, she 
heard the King strike the table violently, and cry out : ' Ah ! 
the traitor ! ' She ran to him. . . . The King handed her the 
letter, saying : ' Take it, Madame, read it ! ' The Queen 
read it, and then, handing back the letter, she replied with 
great composure : ' Well ! We must send to receive the 
Infanta.'" 1 

When the news was known in Madrid, the indignation of the 
populace knew no bounds ; excited crowds paraded the streets ; 
the King of France was burned in effigy, and the French residents 
trembled for their safety. Philip V. even talked of imprisoning 
his widowed daughter-in-law and her sister, Mile, de Beaujolais, 
in some remote corner of the kingdom, where they should 
remain as hostages. But afterwards he changed his mind, and 
at the end of March they were sent back to France, the want of 
courtesy shown them being in striking contrast to the infinite 
formalities which marked the journey of the Infanta from 
Versailles to Bayonne. That little princess departed under 
the impression that she was merely going to pay a visit to her 

Meanwhile, the search for the future Queen of France was 
being busily prosecuted. The claims of over one hundred 

1 President Renault, "Memoires." But, according to Coxe ("History of the 
House of Austria"), Isabella Farnese was anything but composed: "In the first 
paroxysms of rage, the Queen tore off a bracelet ornamented with a portrait of the 
Kinglof France and trampled it under her foot ; and Philip declared that Spain could 
never shed enough blood to avenge the indignity offered to his family." 


princesses were discussed by the Council, and one after another 
eliminated from the list, on the score that they were too old or 
too young or too poor or too delicate, until the number was 
reduced to three ; the two youngest sisters of Monsieur le Due, 
Mile, de Vermandois and Mile, de Sens, and the Princess Anne 
of England. 

The idea of a marriage between Louis XV. and one of the 
Condes displeased Fleury, while Monsieur le Due feared that it 
might expose him to the charge of having sent away the Infanta 
in order to elevate his own family ; and it was therefore decided 
to demand the hand of the English princess. It seems astonish- 
ing that Monsieur le Due and his advisers should not have 
understood that the question of religion would prove an insuper- 
able obstacle to the proposed alliance. They made it conditional 
on the Princess Anne's conversion to Catholicism, although the 
Hanoverian dynasty occupied the throne of England in virtue 
of its Protestant professions. As every one but themselves 
must have foreseen, George I.'s answer was a courteous but firm 

Monsieur le Due appeared to find himself thrown back upon 
his sisters. Both possessed all the physical and mental qualifi- 
cations that could be desired in a queen ; but the younger, Mile, 
de Sens, was very much under the domination of her mother, 
and Madame de Prie feared that Madame la Duchesse might 
exercise through her an influence hostile to her own. The 
same objection did not apply to her elder sister, and there is a 
tradition that the favourite went, under an assumed name, to the 
Abbey of Fontevrault, of which Mile de Vermandois was a 
pensionnaire, to inform her, on behalf of Monsieur le Due, of the 
honour in store for her ; that, in the course of their conversation, 
she inquired if she had ever heard of Madame de Prie, to which 
the young princess replied, in a horrified tone, that the said lady 
was a " mtchante creature" whom no one ever mentioned in 
the convent without making the sign of the Cross ; that it was 
deplorable that her brother should have fallen under the 
influence of a person who was detested by all France, and that 
he would be well advised to get rid of her as soon as possible. 


Whereupon, we are told, Madame de Prie abruptly quitted 
the room, exclaiming furiously : " Va ! tn ne seras pas reine de 

In a monotonous age it seems a pity to spoil so striking a 
story, but, in the interests of truth, we feel bound to mention 
that, some three months after the date at which this incident 
is supposed to have occurred, Mile, de Vermandois wrote to the 
favourite a letter couched in the most cordial terms, and con- 
cluding thus : " I cannot too often repeat to you, Madame, what 
are the sentiments of confidence, friendship, and consideration 
that I entertain for you." l 

The fact of the matter is that Mile, de Vermandois did not 
become the bride of Louis XV., because she preferred to become 
the bride of Heaven, in which she perhaps showed a wise dis- 

I- The refusal of Mile, de Vermandois was probably a relief 
to Monsieur le Due, who was aware that the bitterness and 
jealousy aroused by the elevation of his sister would go far 
to outweigh the advantages which he would gain from his close 
connexion with the King. At the same time, it threatened to 
prolong a situation the dangers of which had been brought 
home to him very forcibly by the recent serious illness of his 
young Sovereign. 

It was at this moment that he received, from the Empress 
Catherine of Russia, an offer which contributed indirectly to 
give to the great affair of the marriage of Louis XV. the most 
unexpected denoument. Catherine proposed that her daughter 
Elizabeth should wed the King of France, and that Monsieur 
le Due himself should marry Marie Leczinska with whom she 
was no doubt aware that he had already opened matrimonial 
negotiations and become the Russian candidate for the throne 
of Poland, in succession to Augustus III. 

This gave Madame de Prie an opening of which she was 
not slow to take advantage. The Russian alliance, she declared, 
to Monsieur le Due, was quite out of the question, for the 

1 This letter has been published in full by M. Thirion, in his interesting monograph 
on Madame de Prie. 


Princess Elizabeth was reported to be a true child of her 
mother, and would be certain to acquire a great influence over 
the young King, which would, of course, be directed by 
Catherine. But let the prince resign his own pretensions to 
the hand of Marie Leczinska in favour of his Sovereign, and 
not only would he escape a marriage which only a sense of the 
duty he owed his family was impelling him to contract, but he 
would secure a Queen who would owe everything to him, who 
had no support either in France or abroad, and whose character 
promised obedience and docility. 

The name of Marie Leczinska had already been erased from 
the list of marriageable princesses, on the ground that she 
belonged to a poor and dispossessed family ; but, urged on by 
his mistress and Paris-Duverney, Monsieur le Due immediately 
proceeded to advocate her claims. His proposal met with the 
most violent opposition from the Due d'Orleans, who presented 
himself before Louis XV., with tears coursing down his cheeks, 
and endeavoured to persuade him from a marriage contrary, 
he declared, to the wishes of the nation ; while the King of 
Sardinia, his Majesty's grandfather, indignant at not having 
been consulted, addressed the most reproachful letters to the 
young monarch concerning the mesalliance which he was 
about to commit. But Fleury, a word from whom would have 
had more weight with Louis XV. than the expostulations of all 
the kings and princes in Europe, excused himself from express- 
ing an opinion, and on 27 May, 1725, his Majesty announced 
publicly, after dinner, his approaching marriage with Marie 

It was a great triumph for Monsieur le Due and his mistress. 
At one blow, so to speak, they had got rid of the Infanta and 
the dreaded influence of Philip V. ; affianced the King to a 
princess who might before a year had elapsed bear him a son 
to stand between the Due d'Orleans and the throne, and secured 
a Queen of France from whose influence they had nothing to 
fear and everything to hope. 

The exiles of Weissembourg were not allowed to remain in 
doubt as to whom they were indebted for their amazing good 


fortune, and they displayed a gratitude proportioned to their 
joy. "In his correspondence with the Marshal de Bourg," 
writes M. Thirion, " the dethroned King returned constantly to 
the gratitude which he, his wife, and his daughter had vowed to 
the Marquise de Prie, to the admiration which she had inspired 
in them, to the affection which they all three bore her, to the 
respectful gratitude which they professed for Monsieur le Due. 
It was to Madame de Prie that they addressed themselves, when 
they desired to know what they were expected to do, of this or 
that custom of the Court. And the day when, in a scene which 
has remained celebrated, the ex-King of Poland threw himself 
on his knees to return thanks to Heaven for having called his 
daughter to such high destinies, he thought still of the favourite. 
He mentioned her in his thanksgivings." 

But great triumphs, whether military or political, are seldom 
cheaply obtained, and in the present instance the cost was very 
considerable. Spain had been exasperated to the last degree 
by the almost brutal repudiation of the Infanta and had thrown 
herself into the arms of Austria ; the Orleans were furious at 
being outwitted and at the treatment to which Monsieur le Due's 
action had exposed their relatives in Spain, and were more than 
ever determined to compass his disgrace ; while a great part 
both of the Court and the nation was indignant at the selection 
of . a princess without alliance, without fortune, and without 

However, when all things were taken into account, the Prime 
Minister and his favourite felt that they had good cause for 
rejoicing, and they awaited with impatience the coming of Marie 
Leczinska and the consummation of their hopes. 

On 15 August, 1725, the Due d'Orleans, in the name of the 
King of France, espoused Marie Leczinska, at Strasbourg. For 
obvious reasons, the duty could not have been an altogether 
pleasant one for his Royal Highness to perform, nor was it 
rendered any the more agreeable by the fact that his enemy, 
Madame de Prie, in her capacity as one of the twelve dames du 
palais of the Queen of France, was a witness of his discomfiture. 
The favourite might have aspired to the more exalted post of 


dame d'atours (mistress of the robes), but this she had prudently 
decided to forgo, lest she should be accused of wishing to 
dominate her Majesty too ostensibly. But the successful 
candidate, the Comtesse de Mailly, mother-in-law of the future 
mistress of Louis XV., was her selection, as were all the ladies- 

Two days later, Marie Leczinska set out to join the King, 
who had just established himself at Fontainebleau. It was 
remarked that both at Strasbourg and during the journey her 
Majesty showed an extreme graciousness towards Madame de 
Prie, and conversed with her longer and more frequently than 
with any of her colleagues. At Moret, the Queen was met by 
Louis XV., accompanied by all the Princesses. Marie descended 
from her coach, and was preparing to kneel on a cushion hastily 
thrown, but the King prevented her, kissed her on both cheeks, 
" with a vivacity which astonished those who were aware of his 
timidity where women were concerned," and did not conceal 
his pleasure. On 5 September, the marriage was celebrated, in 
the chapel at Fontainebleau, with the utmost magnificence, and 
the next day Monsieur le Due wrote to Stanislaus Leczinski 
that his Majesty's attitude towards his wife " had surpassed his 
hopes, and, if possible, his desires," adding certain intimate 
details, upon which, however, we dare not venture. 

The Court remained at Fontainebleau until the first days of 
December, when it returned to Versailles, where the young 
Queen was installed in the apartments formerly occupied by 
Marie Therese of Austria and the Duchesse de Bourgogne. No 
cloud had as yet troubled the royal honeymoon. The King was 
quite a devoted husband ; he passed every night with his wife ; 
compared her to Queen Blanche, the mother of Saint-Louis, 
and said to those who drew his attention to the beauty of some 
lady of the Court : " I find the Queen still more beautiful." 

Monsieur le Due and Madame de Prie were delighted, 
believing that from this passion would spring true friendship 
and confidence ; that gradually Marie Leczinska would acquire 
ascendency over the mind of this young King, half-man, half- 
child, and that they would be able to govern him through her. 


And badly did they stand in need of a support near the 
throne, for every day the Government of Monsieur le Due was 
becoming more unpopular. The cruel edict of May, 1724, 
against the Protestants, loudly condemned even by many 
staunch Catholics ; the brutal manner in which the laws against 
mendicity were enforced ; the failure of the prosecution of 
Le Blanc ; the restriction of the privileges of the magistracy, 
in which most people saw only an act of vengeance for the 
acquittal of the ex-Minister for War ; the favour shown to the 
Paris brothers, who were generally hated ; the sudden alliance 
of Austria and Spain and the fear that another war was on the 
point of breaking out ; the enormous rise in the price of bread, 
which, though mainly due to the failure of the harvest of 1725, 
was attributed by the people to the operations of Madame de 
Prie and the Paris brothers ; and the ceaseless intrigues of the 
Orleans faction, had raised against it a perfect tempest of indigna- 
tion. Riots broke out in several towns, and were with difficulty 
suppressed ; satires and pamphlets against the Government 
poured from the printing-presses of the capital ; more than one 
Minister talked of resigning his office. Unless Monsieur le Due 
could secure the favour and confidence of the King, his Ministry 
was doomed. 

But between Monsieur le Due and the King stood the figure 
of Fleury. The prince had now been Prime Minister for two 
years, yet never had he succeeded in obtaining a single hour's 
private conversation with Louis XV. on affairs of State. A 
score of times when he imagined that he had found a favourable 
occasion to speak to him on business, the King had immediately 
turned the conversation to the chase, the play or some kindred 
subject, on which he continued to talk until Fleury, whom he 
never failed to summon, entered his cabinet. The previous 
year, when Louis XV. was at Chantilly and the Bishop of Frejus 
had gone to spend a week at the country-house of the Due 
de Liancourt, Monsieur le Due had endeavoured to take advan- 
tage of his absence ; but the King intimated to him that he 
would do nothing until the return of his preceptor, and even 
refused to sign some papers of trifling importance which were 


awaiting his signature. All his efforts to secure the confidence 
of the young monarch remained without result ; the Bishop of 
Frejus perpetually barred the way. 

And he could not disguise from himself the fact that 
Fleury was no longer content to remain neutral. He had 
become, if not the opponent of Monsieur le Due himself, at 
least that of his chief advisers. One day, in the spring of 1626, 
he drew the prince aside, denounced in the strongest terms the 
conduct of Madame de Prie and Duverney, whom he stigma- 
tized as enemies of the State, and declared that " the reputation 
of his Highness imperiously demanded that he should no 
longer submit to the domination of such unworthy counsellors." 
It was practically an ultimatum, or, at any rate, Monsieur le Due 
regarded it in that light. If he were willing to dismiss his 
mistress and Duverney and govern on the advice of Fleury, the 
latter would graciously permit him to retain the simulacrum 
of power. If not, the bishop intended to procure the disgrace 
of all three. 

The Prime Minister warmly defended his friends, asserting 
that they were the victims of envy and prejudice, and ended 
by declaring that, since he well knew that they were ready to 
hazard everything for him, even their lives, if they were to fall, 
he would fall with them. Then, after high words on both sides, 
the prince and the bishop parted. 

When this conversation was reported to Madame de Prie, 
she at once perceived that there could be no safety for the 
Ministry of Monsieur le Due so long as Fleury remained at 
Court, and she represented to her lover that all their efforts 
must henceforth be directed to separating him from the 
King. It was, of course, too much to hope that Louis XV. 
would ever consent to banish his former preceptor, but the 
latter might be induced to believe that he had forfeited his 
Majesty's confidence and retire of his own accord. 

But how was this to be accomplished ? Obviously, by 
means of the Queen. Marie Leczinska, thanks to the efforts 
of Madame de Prie and the ladies whom the favourite had 
placed about her, who insinuated that Fleury was jealous of the 


affection the King entertained for her, was already prejudiced 
against the bishop ; while she naturally felt herself under great 
obligations to those who had placed the crown matrimonial upon 
her head. 

On 1 8 December, 1/25, it was decided to make an attempt 
to accustom the King to work with the Prime Minister without 
the presence of his preceptor. The Queen, after a good deal 
of hesitation, had consented to lend herself to this intrigue, 
certain indiscreet words which Fleury had uttered in her presence 
having dissipated her last scruples. 

In accordance with the plan agreed upon, when Louis XV. 
returned from the chase, she sent to ask him to join her in her 
cabinet. It was then about an hour before that which he 
invariably spent in conversation with his preceptor. 

On entering his wife's apartments, the King found her with 
Monsieur le Due. With her most ingratiating smile, the Queen 
told him that she had a favour to ask of him. Would he not 
consent to work in her cabinet that evening with the Prime 
Minister only ? 

The King refused, though she continued to press him until 
the time arrived for him to join Fleury. Before he left, however, 
she succeeded in extracting a promise from him that he would 
return shortly. Proceeding to his own apartments, where his 
preceptor was awaiting him, the King gave him an exact 
account of all that had passed, at the same time assuring him 
that, he was resolved never to work alone with Monsieur le Due 
and not to return to the Queen. Fleury, however, begged him 
to go back, as he had given his promise to the Queen, adding 
that, if he were determined not to discuss affairs of State alone 
with Monsieur le Due, he had better send for him, " No, no ! " 
replied the King ; " remain here ; I shall return in a moment." 

Louis XV. went out, and did not return, the Queen and 
Monsieur le Due having detained him on various pretexts. 
Fleury waited an hour, and then, believing or, more probably, 
feigning to believe, that the King had yielded to the persuasions 
of the Queen, retired, and on the following morning wrote to the 
King, begging him, since his services were no longer of any 


value to him, to permit him to spend the rest of his days in 
retreat. After which, he quitted Versailles for a little house 
which he owned in the village of Issy. 

The King, who had started very early for the chase, did not 
receive the letter until the afternoon. He appeared very much 
disturbed, and retired at once to his apartments, where he threw 
himself into a chair and remained for more than an hour in an 
attitude of the most profound dejection. At length, one of his 
gentlemen of the Chamber, the Due de Mortemart, ventured to 
mention the cause of his sorrow. "What, Sire," said he, "are 
you not the master ? Tell Monsieur le Due to send at once for 
M. de Frejus, and you will see him again." 

The King followed his advice ; the Prime Minister was 
obliged to obey, with what feelings may be imagined, and on 
the following morning Fleury returned in triumph to 

From that hour it was clear that the Ministry was doomed, 
unless it could come to terms with the bishop. The outcry 
against it redoubled in intensity ; its more lukewarm friends 
began to fall away and to pay their court openly to Fleury ; 
while the King's manner towards his wife plainly showed the 
irritation which he felt at her conduct. 

It is probable that Fleury would have been prepared to 
leave the nominal direction of affairs in the hands of Monsieur le 
Due, at any rate until the situation both at home and abroad 
had become less embarrassing, if the prince had consented to 
the dismissal of Madame de Prie and Duverney, the two 
particular objects of public hatred. Several times he urged this 
step upon the prince, only to be met with an assurance that both 
of them had practically ceased to exercise any political 
influence. More wise than her lover, Madame de Prie sought to 
conciliate the bishop by temporarily renouncing public life, and, 
when her duties as dame du palais did not require her 
presence at the Court, passing the greater part of her time in 
Paris. At the beginning of March, 1726, she withdrew to an 
estate which she had acquired near Lisieux, whence she wrote 
begging the Queen to accord her permission to remain there for 


some time and to allow one of her colleagues to perform her 
official functions. Monsieur le Due, however, showed great 
irritation at the departure of his mistress, the more so since 
it coincided with the absence of Duverney, who had decided to 
efface himself for a while also, although the Prime Minister 
was just then in particular need of his advice on some financial 
question ; and he accordingly sent the marchioness what was 
practically an order to return to Versailles. She arrived, 
escorted by Duverney, who had received a similar summons ; 
and their unexpected appearance upon the scene created a 
most unfortunate impression, and convinced Fleury that all his 
remonstrances were useless, and that they had acquired such 
ascendency over the Prime Minister that he would never 
consent to part with them. 

Henceforth, the only question with him was the choice of a 
convenient moment for the disgrace of Monsieur le Due. 
Both he and the King, however, found it difficult to take the 
decisive step, and they were still hesitating when, on 8 June, the 
Prime Minister, exasperated by a fresh outburst against 
Madame de Prie, who had just returned to Versailles from a 
visit to Paris, came to Louis XV. and tendered his resignation. 
But it was not Monsieur le Due's resignation that the bishop 
required, but his dismissal, and, on his advice, Louis XV., with 
that dissimulation which was one of the least edifying traits in 
his character, not only begged the Prime Minister to retain his 
office, but gave him " marks of his friendship and satisfaction." 

Monsieur le Due had no choice but to withdraw his resig- 
nation, and left the royal presence under the comforting 
impression that he stood in no immediate danger. He was 
speedily undeceived. 

On Tuesday, n June, at three o'clock in the afternoon, 
Monsieur le Due, Madame de Prie and Duverney being all three 
still at Versailles, Louis XV. set out for Rambouillet. At 
dinner the King had shown himself particularly gracious to the 
Prime Minister. He had given him to taste some bread which 
had been kneaded specially for him at the Menagerie; had 
thrown a little loaf into his hat, and had said, as he rose from 


table : " Monsieur, despatch your affairs and come early to 
Rambouillet, because I shall sup at half-past eight," a 
recommendation which he repeated at the moment of entering 
his carriage. 

After the King had driven away, Monsieur le Due went to 
his cabinet, where he passed the rest of the afternoon working 
with the Minister for War, Breteuil, and the Comptroller- 
General, Dodun. Shortly before eight o'clock, the other 
Ministers left the chateau, and the prince was about to follow 
them, when he was informed that the Due de Charost, Captain 
of the Guards, had been waiting for three-quarters of an hour in 
order to speak to him. 

But let us allow Mathieu Marais to relate what followed in 
his own words : 

" The prince went out and told the Due de Charost that he 
was going to join the King at Rambouillet, and was pressed for 
time, and asked him to defer until the morrow what he had to 
say to him. The Captain of the Guards answered in a low tone 
that what he had to say to him was from the King ; upon which 
they re-entered the cabinet. The Due de Charost handed him 
an order from the King, which was to the effect that, as he 
wished to govern himself in the future, he was suppressing the 
office of Prime Minister ; that he thanked him for his services, 
and ordered him to retire to Chantilly, until further orders. 
This order was in the King's own hand. The prince's first 
movement was one of anger, after which he said that he 
would obey. He asked : ' And my papers ? ' and was told 
that there were no orders concerning them. He sorted 
them, burned some, placed some in his pocket, and filled 
a despatch-box with others, observing : ' These are the King's 
papers, and all the others that remain are his.' He wrote to 
Madame la DucJtesse almost, it is said, in these terms : ' Every 
day follows another, and does not resemble it. Yesterday, I 
was Caesar ; to-day, I am Pompey. I am going to Chantilly. 
I count, belle maman, on your still preserving for me your good 
graces.' He was asked for his parole, which he gave, and then 
entered his carriage, which had been waiting for a long time to 


take him to Rambouillet. He thanked all the courtiers who 
accompanied him to his carriage, and when he was outside the 
gates, he was heard to say to his postilion : ' To Chantilly ! ' 
M. de Saint-Pol, exempt of the Guards, accompanied him as 
far as the chateau." 

While Charost was communicating the wishes of the King 
to the Prime Minister, Fleury, who was about to replace him, 
proceeded to the Queen's apartments, armed with a letter which 
he had dictated that morning to his former pupil. It was as 
follows : "I beg you, Madame, and, if need be, I order you, to 
do everything that the former Bishop of Fre*jus will tell you on 
my behalf, as if it were myself." l The selection of Fleury to 
inform the Queen of the disgrace of her friends and to signify 
to her his orders was a refinement of cruelty, and the poor 
woman wept bitterly. After a while, however, she recovered 
her composure and wrote to the King : " Gratitude towards 
Monsieur le Due has made me shed tears, but your commands 
dry them." 

As soon as the bishop had departed, the Queen sent for 
Madame de Prie and the fallen Minister's favourite sister, Mile. 
de Clermont, whom she informed of what had occurred. Both 
ladies started that same night for Chantilly, where they arrived 
at daybreak. In the evening, Madame la Duchesse, who had 
received the news of her son's disgrace at the Chateau of 
Saint-Maur, appeared upon the scene, with the faithful Lassay 
in her train. 2 Madame la DucJiesse had always detested 
Madame de Prie, and regarding her, as she now did, as the cause 
of her son's disgrace, her indignation against her knew no bounds. 
" She was very surprised to learn that Madame de Prie was there, 
and manifested it in terms which marked her contempt and 
hatred. After having embraced her son, she told him that she 
hoped that the lady would not be so indiscreet as to present 

1 Marechal de Villars, " M&noires." These orders were not to receive Monsieur 
le Due, in case he should present himself at her apartments, and, on no considera- 
tion, to make any allusion in the presence of the King to that prince, Madame de 
Prie, or Paris-Duverney. 

2 See page 280, supra. 


herself before her. Monsieur le Due replied that she should have 
reason to be satisfied, and begged her not to be displeased if he 
did not sup with her, as he was very tired. He supped alone 
with Madame de Prie ; Madame la Duchesse supped with M. de 

" On the Thursday, on descending to dinner, Madame la 
Duchesse perceived that a place had been laid for Madame de 
Prie next to her own. She stopped and manifested her surprise. 
Madame de Prie approached and said to her : ' Is it your wish 
that I retire ? ' She replied : ' No, you may sit down to 
table ! ' But she called the Prince di Carignano to sit by her, 
and Madame de Prie took the prince's place. 

" As this was done in a manner sufficiently humiliating, there 
were, after dinner, a great many comings and goings, in order to 
persuade Madame la Duchesse to permit Madame de Prie to sup 
with her. Finally, Madame la Duchesse consented, out of com- 
plaisance for Monsieur le Due, in the state in which he was." 1 

For nearly two days after the disgrace of Monsieur le Due 
no steps were taken against his mistress. But no one at 
Chantilly doubted that her respite would be but a brief one. 
Duverney had been exiled forty leagues from Paris ; all the 
Ministers most attached to Monsieur le Due had been relieved 
of their functions ; Le Blanc and the Belle-Isles had been 
recalled, and the man who, if he had received his deserts, would 
have been decorating a gibbet had actually been reinstated in 
his old post of Secretary of State for War, in place of the 
honest Breteuil. In such a revolution of the palace, it was 
impossible for her to escape, and on the Thursday evening the 
blow fell, in the shape of a lettre de cachet exiling her to her 
husband's estate of Courbepine, in Normandy. 

Her parting with Monsieur le Due on the morrow was a most 
touching one. " She kept up the comedy to the last," writes the 
author of the manuscript we have just cited. "Twice after 
entering her carriage she returned, not being able, she said, to 
depart without again embracing Monsieur le Due. She appeared 
in despair at leaving him, and gave him all the tokens of a 

1 " MS. of the Bastille," published in "la Nouvelle Revue retrospective." 


passionate love. The prince, on his side, was so afflicted that it 
is impossible to describe it." 

For ourselves, we prefer to believe that the grief of Madame 
de Prie was as genuine as that of Monsieur le Due. It would 
have been, indeed, strange if it had not been so, since, with all 
his faults, he had been to her the most devoted and generous of 
lovers, the truest and best of friends. 

The Chateau of Courbe"pine, which Louis XV. had fixed as 
Madame de Prie's place of exile, was situated a little to the 
north of the town of Bernay, in the midst of an immense wooded 
plain. It had been purchased by the Marquis de Prie, not long 
after his marriage, from Le"onor de Matignon, Bishop of Lisieux. 
At first, she received but few visitors, but when it became known 
that Monsietir le Due had expressed a very ardent desire to see 
her, and had told the Marshal de Villars that " he himself was 
the cause of all her misfortunes and that she did not deserve 
them ; that she had always been disinterested, and that the 
unsatisfactory condition of her affairs would in time prove this," 
people began to think that, in view of a possible return of the 
prince to power, it would be imprudent to ignore the woman 
who still retained his affections. From that time it became quite 
the fashion to go and spend a day or two with the proscribed, 
and the latter never had any cause to complain of lack of 
company. Nevertheless, she felt bitterly the change in her 
position, and could not disguise from herself the fact that, 
notwithstanding the chivalrous endeavours of Monsieur le Due 
to saddle himself with the responsibility for their common 
misfortune, she had largely contributed to it. She saw, too, 
her relatives and proteges deprived of their charges and reduced 
in some instances to poverty ; and this troubled her sorely. 
There can be no doubt that, in time, she would have been 
permitted to return, if not to the Court, at least to Paris and 
Chantilly ; but her health, always delicate, had begun to give 
way beneath the stress of so many agitations. She demanded 
and obtained authorization to visit the waters of Forges, but the 
relief they afforded her was only temporary. In the early 
autumn of 1727 she met with a carriage accident, and though 


the injuries she received were not in themselves very serious, 
they hastened her death, which took place on 7 October, 1727, 
in her thirtieth year. 

Her enemies attributed her death to poison administered by 
her own hand, and the Marquis d'Argenson has published, in 
his " Memoires," a highly-coloured version of this hypothesis, upon 
which we need not dwell here, since its absurdity has now been 
clearly established. 

Monsieur le Due survived his mistress nearly fourteen years. 
In 1830, he was pardoned and returned to Court, but he never 
reappeared again on the political stage, and consecrated the last 
years of his life to the study of chemistry and natural history. 
In 1728, he took unto himself a second wife, in the person of the 
Princess Charlotte of Hesse-Rheinfels, who is described as 
"blonde et (Pun enbonpoint agr cable" with whom he seems to 
have lived very contentedly, notwithstanding the fact that she 
is said to have been erased from the list of eligible princesses at 
the time of the marriage of Louis XV. on account of her bad 
temper. By her he left one son, Louis Joseph de Bourbon, 
Prince de Conde, the organizer and leader of the "Army of 
CondeY' which played so gallant a part in the Wars of the 
French Revolution. Monsieur le Due died on the 27 January, 
1740, in his forty-ninth year. 









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